This shows that 11 convictions took place in the first three months of 2014, seven of which related to licensed premises, three to retail sales to minors and one to smoking in the workplace.
“In general, compliance with the Public Health (Tobacco) Act has been high,” commented HSE Environmental Health Tobacco Lead Dave Molloy, “However, today’s publication highlights that significant problems still remain in relation to smoking in the work place, (section 47 of the Act) particularly in relation to licenced premises and non-compliant smoking shelters and also in relation to sales of tobacco products to minors under the age of 18 (section 45 of the Act).”
The publication of the report comes as a result of the HSE’s Tobacco Control Framework implementation which recommended that details of those convicted for offences under tobacco control legislation be made public.
Details of convictions and prosecutions under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act are being published to raise awareness of the law, stated the HSE. It also serves to highlight good practice “and demonstrate to those who comply with the law that action is being taken against those who fail or refuse to comply; and to encourage the public and businesses to report non-compliance to our Compliance Line, on Lo-Call 1890 333 100”.
From the time of the commencement of Section 47 in 2004 until the end of 2013 a total of 251 prosecutions have been taken by the HSE resulting in 263 convictions. These prosecutions and convictions were mainly in respect of licensed premises including pubs, nightclubs and hotels.
In recent years more than 50% of prosecutions have related to smoking areas in licensed premises. A number of owners and proprietors have been prosecuted and convicted on multiple occasions.
In relation to the sale of tobacco to minors, the HSE undertakes compliance checks, also known as test purchases, in retail outlets to determine if retailers will sell tobacco products to minors.
The HSE’s test-purchase programme together with associated retail audits highlight a significant ongoing non-compliance issue. As a result there have been 43 prosecutions with 33 convictions between 2009 and 2013.
Dave Molloy concluded, “The HSE’s Environmental Health Service takes a compliance-building approach to our enforcement role and where possible we work with businesses so that non-compliance is often addressed without recourse to legal action. Prosecution is reserved for serious offences or where there has been deliberate and/or persistent non-compliance”.
Four of the seven licensed premises were in County Donegal while one was in Dublin, one in County Tipperary and one in County Monaghan.
The highest fine for a licensed premises was €1,600 with €1,921 costs and the lowest was a €100 fine with €876 costs. Removals from the Register ranged from one day to two months.