UK & World News
Smoking Bans 'Boosted Children's Health'
Countries with public smoking bans have seen a dramatic increase in the health of children, a study has found.
Research published in medical journal The Lancet shows premature births and hospital admissions for asthma fell by 10% within a year of anti-smoking legislation being introduced.
It comes a decade to the week since Ireland became the first country in the world to prohibit smoking in public places.
Gerry Collins, a former Gaelic footballer, has been fronting a television campaign to encourage people there to quit smoking.
In one advert, he tells viewers: "I wish I was an actor because then I'd be an actor acting about dying. The reality is I'm not an actor and I'm dying from cancer as a result of smoking."
Gerry died three weeks ago, aged 57, but his daughter Lisa said he would be pleased the smoking ban has made such a difference.
"You really see somebody's true colours when they're under pressure, when their back is really to the wall, and what dad showed and demonstrated to me personally was true courage, bravery and selflessness," she said.
Some 11 studies in Europe and North America have shown smoking bans had an immediate effect on the numbers of premature births and children requiring hospital treatment for asthma.
Dr Turlough Bolger, a consultant paediatrician in Dublin, said: "The secondary effects of parents not smoking as much because they're not allowed to smoke in work or in social situations and that then translating into them not smoking in the home - that's the effect we're witnessing now."
The research suggests countries with anti-smoking laws are collectively saving more than £4bn a year in medical costs.
Smokers welcome that news but still oppose any increase in the restrictions.
Ireland's ban has changed the culture but it came too late for Mr Collins.
His younger daughter Ciara said: "Sure dad would have smoked when we were kids, he would have smoked in the house.
"There would have been a lot of passive smoking going on then, so when he gave up, he did feel guilty about that. He was sorry to us for that."
Mr Collins' final television campaign advert for Ireland's Health and Safety Executive (HSE) ends with the poignant words: "I'll miss my kids. I'll miss being there when they might need me."