Press Release

Martin announces publication of tobacco, pharmacy and nursing home changes

Mr Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Health and Children has announced the publication of the Health (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2000 to amend the Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) Act, 1988, the Health Act, 1970, and the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990. The Bill is being placed on the Order Paper with a view to its early enactment.

The Bill provides for the following:

Amendment to Tobacco (Health Promotion and Protection) Act, 1988

The proposed amendment to the above Act will have the effect of raising the age at which tobacco products can be sold to young persons from sixteen to eighteen years and will raise the maximum fine on persons convicted for selling to underage persons from £500 to £1500.

The Report ” Towards a Tobacco Free Society ” launched by the Minister on 7th of March 2000 recommends raising the age limit to eighteen years as does the report of the Joint Committee on Health and Children on Smoking and Health published in November, 1999. In launching the Report the Minister gave a commitment that tobacco products in future will not be sold to people under eighteen years. The increase in the maximum fine to £1,500 is the highest amount that can be included in this type of amendment and will act as a further deterrent to retailers.

Amendment of Health Act, 1970

Section 59 of the Health Act, 1970 is the statutory basis for the supply of drugs, medicines and medical and surgical appliances under the General Medical Services and community drugs schemes. The Bill will amend section 59 to improve and update the statutory basis for the regulation of the schemes, to promote an equitable and more accountable service and to better provide for the delivery of community pharmacy services.

Amendment of Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990

Section 7(2) of the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990 provides that the Minister may by regulations prescribe the amounts of subvention that may be paid and such amounts may be specified by reference to specified degrees of dependency, specified means or circumstances of dependent persons or such other matters as the Minister considers appropriate. The Bill will amend the Act to empower the Minister to prescribe any necessary administrative and technical details to facilitate the efficient administration of the scheme.

Tax Concessions for Private Convalescent Homes

The Minister for Finance introduced a scheme of tax allowances in respect of capital expenditure on private convalescent homes in the Finance Act, 1999. In order to ensure that the standard of care in convalescent homes is satisfactory, Minister Martin proposes that such homes be required to be registered under the Health (Nursing Homes) Act, 1990.

The Minister has made regulations under Section 6 of the Act for the purpose of ensuring proper standards in nursing homes. It will be necessary to make regulations governing standards in convalescent homes which may include provisions covering areas such as staffing and facilities consistent with the patient profile at the time. It is intended, therefore, to amend the Act to give the Minister power to prescribe different requirements for such homes.