Mandate positive about smoking ban
March 29, 2004
The bar workers' union, Mandate, has said early feedback from its members showed that the smoking ban will work, and that it has the support of the general public.
The union was responding to the claims by the Vintners' Federation of Ireland that the ban is unenforceable, and that business is already down in pubs as a result of the smoking ban.
Legislation banning smoking in enclosed workplaces came into effect at midnight last night.
The new regulations mean that it is illegal to smoke in certain confined working environments. However, there are some exemptions such as prisons and the bedrooms of hotels.
When the Minister for Health, Micheál Martin, announced the smoking ban, he said he had no option. Experts had told him that 150 bar workers a year would get lung cancer from passive smoking in pubs if the ban were not introduced.
Speaking on RTÉ Radio today, Mr Martin said that the ban has opened up an important debate on public health. He added that it is part of a wider strategy to improve the country's cardiovascular health.
Mandate predicts significant benefits
There has been significant trade union support for the measure, as well as from the medical world.
Mandate's John Douglas said today that there will be significant health benefits from the measure. He said many of his members spend over 14 hours a day in pubs, and are experiencing immediate benefits.
Mr Douglas said the public was not being antagonistic towards bar workers. He predicted the ban will work on the basis of public pressure.
VFI warns of repercussions
Tadhg O'Sullivan of the Vintners' Federation of Ireland warned there would be political repercussions for Government parties from those who oppose the ban.
He said jobs would be lost and that already business was down in many pubs.
The introduction of the ban has been welcomed by a number of lobby groups. A survey carried out for the Office of Tobacco Control indicates that most people are likely to comply with the ban and notes strong public support for the measure.
The Irish Hotels Federation has encouraged anyone using their members' facilities to show patience and tolerance while the new legislation is implemented.
Call for similar ban in the North
Anti-smoking campaigners in the North have responded to the introduction of the ban by lobbying for similar legislation from the British government.
A spokeswoman for the Institute of Public Health, Dr Jane Wilde, said the Stormont Minister for Health was aware of how many lives would be saved if workers were protected by a similar ban.
However, there are some exemptions such as prisons and the bedrooms of hotels.
I'll collect Mrs Walter next time I'm passing through!
Well, I'll never vistit Ireland again.
One year on, Irish ban on smoking in pubs is hailed a striking successBy David McKittrick, Ireland Correspondent
29 March 2005
The Irish ban on smoking in bars, which today reaches its first anniversary, is generally viewed as a striking success that has brought significant changes in social and cultural life.
Just one year on, the traditional image of the fug-filled Irish pub has been replaced by a lighter and airier atmosphere, with most of the Irish regarding it as a commendable step forward in health terms.
The ban applies to almost all public workplaces, but interest has centred on bars and restaurants. Making them smoke-free by law has brought about a new sub-culture of doorstep smokers who congregate outside pubs and restaurants having a smoke in the open air.
Bars have facilitated them in a variety of ways, often providing outside tables, gas heaters and ashtrays, and sometimes building on patios and lean-to shelters. This in turn has added a new dimension to social intercourse as the open-air smokers discuss the ban and other topics.
The authorities have exercised no flexibility in dealing with those who break the law. Last July two Galway city bar-owners threw down the gauntlet by openly flouting the ban: their feet barely touched the ground before they found themselves in court receiving hefty fines. Publicans are legally responsible for enforcing the ban on their own premises, and more than half a dozen have been prosecuted for allowing customers to light up.
As this suggests, there remain pockets of underground resistance of publicans who quietly allow smoking. The most recent figures, however, indicate that 94 per cent of pubs and 99 per cent of restaurants comply.
One of the striking features of the episode is that a move which was originally seen as controversial and politically risky has so quickly come to be accepted as the norm. The Irish entertainment lobby, which is traditionally strong within the governing Fianna Fail Party, fought a strong reargard action to have the initiative abandoned or watered down. Forecasts of a disastrous slump in pub trade have not been borne out, and nor have early threats of publicans mounting legal challenges, withholding taxes and even going to jail. Instead, the ban is regarded as irreversible and here to stay.
Some early research points to beneficial effects from the ban. Professor Luke Clancy, a Dublin-based respiratory consultant and anti-smoking campaigner, said: "I have people coming to me saying their lives have been transformed.
"I have people saying they could never go into a pub before, and now they can. It will encourage people to give up smoking and the ban will enable people not to start."
A recent trade union survey indicated that 90 per cent of Dublin bar workers approve of the ban, saying they have experienced little difficulty in implementing it, and a similar proportion believed it has had a positive impact on their health. A spokesman for Mandate, the union, said: "One year later, this research clearly shows that bar workers are enjoying working in healthy, clean and smoke-free environments, free from the dangers posed by other people's smoke."
The ban has been described as an outstanding success by Bertie Ahern, the Taoiseach, who said the initiative had had a hugely beneficial impact on the quality of life. He declared: "We can share a sense of national pride in a measure that will have significant health implications, not just for us here today, but for our children and generations to come.
"This ground-breaking measure has proven to be an outstanding success. The consistently high compliance rates and the widespread support for the initiative prove how successful and welcome the change has been."