Smoking ban in Ireland pubs a step closer

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Smoking ban, Outright ban, Republic of ireland, Passive smoking

The threat of an outright ban on smoking in Ireland's pubs has come a step closer after a health expert claimed 150 barstaff will die in the Republic...

The threat of an outright ban on smoking in Ireland's pubs has come a step closer after a health expert claimed 150 barstaff will die in the Republic this year due to passive smoking.

British licensees have been watching the debate in Ireland with interest as the Irish Government's determination to legislate on the issue could be mirrored in this country.

Irish publicans are strenuously opposed to moves to ban smoking entirely and, like British licensees, claim it is better for pubs to provide effective ventilation.

Health physicist James Repace told a conference in Dublin that working in a smoky bar posed health risks.

"Breathing second-hand smoke causes the premature deaths of hundreds of thousands of non-smokers worldwide," he said.

Mr Repace, who was speaking to the Irish Office of Tobacco Control, referred to the findings of one Irish health board survey which said some ventilation was so ineffective that "record-breaking levels of carbon monoxide remained in some bars".

At the same conference, John Douglas, deputy secretary general of union Mandate, to which many Irish barstaff belong, called for the immediate implementation of a smoking ban in all workplaces - including pubs.

"The protection of the health and lives of workers demands a complete ban on smoking in pubs, backed up by legislation," he said.

His call for action echoes that of British union GMB which represents many barstaff. Last summer its members voted to support an official policy of wholly non-smoking pubs and of lobbying the Government to legislate on the issue.

Meanwhile, in Italy strict legislation on smoking in public places has been introduced.

New laws mean publicans who fail to install highly-efficient ventilation systems and non-smoking areas will face a £1,800 fine and be forced to become entirely non-smoking.

Independent air quality adviser Mike Pitts said: "This level of ventilation would be excessive for the majority of venues. The work involved in introducing such a system would be disruptive and expensive."

Legislation can be avoided in the UK if licensees continue to self-regulate.

"By December 2002, 50 per cent of all venues must display a Charter sign and of those 35 per cent must indicate separate areas or ventilated premises," said Oliver Griffiths of Atmosphere Improves Results.

"If the trade fails to meet these targets, restrictions like those imposed in Italy, South Africa and Australia are on the cards."

Related topics: Legislation

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