The Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, has signed the new smoking regulations into law.

The regulations banning smoking in pubs, bars and restaurants, as well as all workplaces, will come into force on Monday, 26 January next year. This decision is being taken, he said, to protect the health of workers in the hospitality industry from the ill-effects of environmental tobacco smoke.

Inhaling second hand smoke can cause cancer, heart disease and other respiratory illnesses. There are no exemptions in the regulations but they acknowledge the unique circumstances in prisons and places of detention.

The move has been broadly welcomed by health groups, medical organisations and trade unions. But representatives of vintners and the hospitality industry have opposed it, predicting job losses and a fall in income.

Vintners in nine counties - Cork, Kerry, Tipperary, Galway, Donegal, Mayo , Carlow, Wexford and Waterford - have described the proposed ban as unenforceable. The vintners said they feel they cannot police it.

A spokesperson for the Vintners' Federation of Ireland said they have not ruled out taking a legal challenge against the ban.