Trade in Ireland hits out over smoking ban proposals

Related tags Republic of ireland Ireland

Publicans in Ireland have reacted angrily to Irish government plans to ban smoking in pubs.Health minister Michael Martin has told parliament he...

Publicans in Ireland have reacted angrily to Irish government plans to ban smoking in pubs.

Health minister Michael Martin has told parliament he plans to amend the Public Health (Tobacco) Bill to include pubs. The original Bill did not specify pubs but Mr Martin has now pledged they will not evade the legislation.

The trade in Ireland is angry that its attempts to self-regulate on smoking, which were similar to those in Britain, have been ignored.

Many licensees are now furious they have spent thousands of pounds on ventilation systems which will be pointless under the new laws.

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland has said the cost of installing some systems could be as high as €20,000 (about £12,250). Chief executive Tadgh O'Sullivan said rural pubs had already had trouble meeting that cost due to their low turnover but said the "no-smoke zones" in pubs in Counties Kildare, Wicklow and Dublin had been successful.

The Licensed Vintners' Association, which represents Dublin publicans, agreed improved ventilation was the "most effective way of cutting down on passive smoking".

Chief executive Frank Fell said a complete ban was "ludicrous". He added: "Past experience shows that smoke-free pubs don't work."

Ronnie Greaney, licensee of An Tobar bar in Galway city, agreed. Four years ago he declared his premises a non-smoking pub and attracted national publicity and a stream of interested customers.

But a few weeks later the novelty had worn off and trade slumped. "Suddenly I found that customers who don't smoke also drink less," he said.

After four months he admitted defeat and his customers were once again free to light up. "We weren't able to get enough business without smokers," he said.

Now the trade is concerned politicians will take the lead from Ireland and enforce a smoking ban in British pubs.

The Charter Group is continuing to urge licensees to sign up to the voluntary charter on smoking or face strict regulation or even a complete ban by the Government.

So far figures suggest as many as two-thirds of pubs will be signed up to the charter by the end of this year.

Related topics Legislation

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