No smoke without ire as fuming Finian ignores facts and makes mug of himself
IT'S good to see that James Reilly's anti-smoking measures have received unilateral, cross-party support and that he plans to tackle the threats by tobacco companies to take legal action against plain packaging head-on.
Describing it as unilateral support, however, is to ignore the contribution to the debate made by Independent TD for Dublin North Central, Finian McGrath, who displayed a staggering ignorance of the subject this week.
All couched under a general plea to leave smokers alone and stop picking on them, McGrath started out by not even being able to get his facts rights, insisting that 25pc of the population are smokers when, according to the HSE, it was 28pc in 2003, 21.5pc in 2013 and is now 19.5pc.
Far more disturbingly, McGrath even seemed happy to cast doubt on the widely accepted link between smoking and cancer.
Commenting on a report that came out recently suggesting the link between the two wasn't all it seemed to be, he criticised the media for not giving the doubters publicity because, and I quote, "it's not trendy".
Not content with this fatuous nonsense, he then pointed out that as well as smoking being bad for you, "so is going down to McDonald's, or having six or seven pints. All I'm saying is don't spend your life beating up smokers".
So the nub of McGrath's argument is that because there are other things that are bad for you if consumed to excess, we shouldn't target smoking, but instead let children grow up unaware of its dangers and let innocent workers be exposed to the dangers of passive smoking.
It would be easy to dismiss McGrath's idiocy as a rare, isolated incident, but unfortunately it's not.
The good news is that such cretinous beliefs are on the decrease.
In fact, according to the latest statistics, I believe they are held by less than 20pc of the population.