What will the impact of a smoking ban be on pubs, restaurants and hotels from January next?

Minister for Health Micheál Martin confirmed that he intends to introduce a ban on smoking in many public spaces from next year. The announcement comes in response to the publication of a report on the adverse effects of passive smoking. Micheál Martin says that there is enormous public support for the widening of the exiting restrictions on tobacco.

It's bad news for smokers and publicans are concerned about how the ban will be enforced.

One publican believes that the ban will cause hassle for staff in pubs and customers who smoke will be irate. The minister says that the ban will protect workers who are exposed to passive smoking. A recently published report shows that bar workers are 30 per cent more likely to suffer from heart disease with passive smoking being one of the factors at play. Some bar workers are already taking legal action for damage to their health as a result of passive smoking. John Douglas of the Mandate trade union says that there should be no compromise in protecting workers.

Some smokers believe that the ban is a step too far and are not convinced it will work.

I can imagine some people might be quite stressed by it all.

Other customers believe it is a positive move especially when it comes to serving food in smoke free environments.

The Health and Safety Authority plans to engage in public consultation on the issue over the coming months.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 30 January 2003. The reporter is Mary Calpin.