In a series of media interviews on Tuesday, Cullen, a 40-a-day smoker of non-tipped cigarettes, called for a rethink on the proposals by colleague Health Minister Micheal Martin, saying he was uneasy about a “politically correct” blanket ban.
Cullen is the first senior member of the Irish government to come out unequivocally against an all-out ban. He cited the controversial smoking ban now in effect in New York to bolster his position.
“Even at this stage Chicago is urging tourists to ‘come to Chicago as we have everything New York used to have,’ ” he said.
“I would be uneasy about us following what I consider to be the political correctness of the United States and would prefer us to be like our European counterparts, who are slightly more irreverent.
“I suppose I’m closer to Berlin than Boston on smoking and obviously like having a couple of cigarettes with a cup of coffee. I hate the importation of American political correctness into Ireland. I dislike it with a passion.
“I have a healthy traditional dislike of over-regulation and being told what to do all the time, particularly now when it become part of invading into your social life.”
Admitting he has a “pathetic addiction”, Cullen said he agreed with Martin’s campaign against smoking but was seeking compromise on the blanket ban.
“My personal choice would be to move in that direction, create a smoking room or whatever you want to do so that people can begin to ease it out of the pub area, out of the caf