Mar 30, 2005

Irish smoking ban 1 year old.

Ireland's pioneering smoking ban has won widespread support despite fears it would put pubs out of business, anti-smoking group ASH said on Tuesday.

The ban on smoking in pubs, restaurants and workplaces, introduced exactly a year ago, was expected to meet widespread resistance here where the pub culture of a drink and a smoke were considered part of its lifeblood.

Instead, the sight of smokers huddled outside pub doors is now a familiar one.

"The general support for this health initiative is extremely high and has increased further since its introduction, even among smokers -- and exceeds all expectations," said ASH, noting the new law had 97 percent support in pubs and restaurants.

Professor Luke Clancy, chairman of ASH's Irish branch, said the ban could become the "health initiative of the century."

The group estimates that tobacco kills six times as many people in Ireland as road accidents, work accidents, drugs, murder, suicide and AIDS combined. Dealing with smoking-related illnesses is a massive drain on health resources.

"As expected, the scaremongering predictions, such as the projected loss of 60,000 jobs, have not materialized. Neither have vast numbers of public houses closed -- in fact the selling price of these establishments continues to increase," Clancy said.

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