Magherafelt has poor smoke-free record

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MAGHERAFELT district has the lowest rate of compliance to the smoke free leglisation introduced seven years ago, members of the local council were told.

Councillors heard there was still a need to monitor premises to ensure that smoking in enclosed public places such as business premises, work vehicles and public transport was complied with.

In total in Northern Ireland 12,142 premises were visited by public health inspectors.

“Of those visited within the Magherafelt area 88.8 per cent were compliant in respect of smoking which is lower than the NI average of 98.8pc,” said Environmental Health department chief Maurice Young.

“Magherafelt also had a low rate of compliance with regard to signage 68.7pc against NI total of 93.2pc.

“Where non-compliance was identified appropriate follow-up action was taken in tandem with the sections enforcement policy - fixed penalty notice, written warning, verbal warning or a resolution on site.”

Mr Young continued: “It is interesting to note that across the province complaints with regard to tobacco compliance are still being received. A total of 45 in the Northern group and overall a total of 260 for this period.

“In addition 25 general enquiries were received in the Northern group and a total of 96 general enquiries across NI.

“It is also evident that although the majority of businesses, proprietors across the province have embraced the legislation there is still a necessity to monitor premises for smoking compliance and continue to implement the legislation where non compliance arises.”

Councillor Paul McLean express surprise that Magherafelt district was lower than the NI average for compliance.

“I would like the department to look into this matter and see how we can address it,” he said. “It’s not often Magherafelt is at the lower end of matters like such as this.”

The legislisation to prohibit smoking in public places was brought into force by the government in April 2006 with local authorities empowered to investigate any breaches identified by the public.