Ireland ranks first in Europe in terms of protecting non-smokers from tobacco smoke pollution, according to the results of a new European Commission funded research project.

It follows tests for carbon monoxide levels in over 2,250 people in Ireland at sporting events, music festivals, schools, colleges and hospitals since March 2006 and similar research in other EU countries.

The report says there is a clear link between the pollution of lungs by carbon monoxide and the effectiveness of a total smoking ban.

Ireland was found to have one of the lowest levels of carbon monoxide pollution per cigarette smoked in Europe and also ranks second in Europe for its tobacco pricing policies.

Professor Luke Clancy, respiratory consultant and chairman of ASH, said the positive results indicate the beneficial effects of the smoking ban introduced in 2004.

These are the results of the first Europe-wide tests and the researchers says more testing will be needed in 2008 for a more detailed analysis and definitive conclusions.