A nationwide ban on the sale, marketing and use of smokey coal from autumn 2018 has been announced by the Government. 

A ban is already in place in 25 towns and cities across the country.

It was first introduced in Dublin in 1990 following severe episodes of winter smog caused by the use of the fuel for home-heating.

The ban was later extended to other cities and large towns after air quality in the capital was found to have improved significantly.

Research indicates the ban has saved thousands of lives since it was introduced 25 years ago.

The regulations have been under review since April 2012 and are enforced by local authorities.

Anyone found in breach of the ban faces a maximum fine of €5,000.

The Asthma Society of Ireland has welcomed the ban, describing it as a "milestone".

Asthma Society CEO Sharon Cosgrove said: "With 470,000 people affected, Ireland has the fourth highest prevalence of asthma worldwide. Whilst patients of respiratory diseases are worst affected, ongoing exposure to this nasty pollutant affects everyone."

Speaking on RTÉ's News at One, Asthma Society spokesperson John Holohan said the ban introduced 25 years ago in Dublin had brought huge positive benefits.

"The level of particulate matter in Dublin fell by nearly three quarters and it has been shown in various studies that it has had very positive, beneficial effects on life expectancy in general," he said.

"For asthma suffers who are particularly sensitive to poor air quality, it has helped to improve their lives and for that now to be legislation that potentially is available for the whole population of Ireland is very much to be welcomed."