UPDATE 29 March 2005 -- One year after the smoking ban was introduced in Ireland, there have been just 20 prosecutions for violations, according to the Office of Tobacco Control. Only a small number of those prosecuted have had to pay the maximum fine of €3000. So far, €400,000 has been spent publicising the smoking ban -- half before it was introduced and half afterwards. However, enforcing the ban has not cost any money. It is policed by environmental health officers who were in place before the ban came in. They are not present on Friday trains running between Dublin and Kilkenny, where I observe British tourists smoking between carriages on a regular basis.
KILKENNY -- I have visited three coffee shops before 1000 on the first morning of Ireland's ban on smoking and noted no drop in trade alongside no ashtrays. Smoking is now banned in all enclosed workplaces in Ireland. On the first day of the smoking ban, Google listed 15 pages with the Irish phrase for no smoking: No Caith Tobac. The law arises from the Public Health (Tobacco) Act, 2002 (Section 479 Regulations 2003. The Office of Tobacco Control said all complaints made to its 1890 333 100 hotline will be acted upon. I want to photograph the first smoking inspector that I see.
Observations from the first weekend of the no smoking ban follow from dedicated college students who spent long hours observing the effects first-hand.
- Darren Fennessy: "... freezing night air where a friendly chat could be had with the bouncers."
- Ian Mannion: "The upstairs bar is a long way from the door. What's becoming noticeable now is body scents."
- Dearbhaile Shine: "... stream of people outside puffing away."
- Caterina Foley: "Herbal cigarettes were made so that smokers could smoke them when the ban came into affect."
- Aidan Doyle: "The issue of litter will be brought up."
- Mark Fraher: "... outside to have a fag."
- Mark Hickey: "It's the elderly I feel sorry for, the people who have been going to their local for the last 50 years, to be told by some youngster than they have to go out in the cold."
- Shane Keogh: "Pubs are much more hospitable now."
- John Duggan: "At lunchtime on the first day of the ban, some people forgot about it and simply lighted up."
- Thomas Lonergan: "Now I only have to worry about alcohol poisoning and not second hand smoke effects."
- Peter Cahill: "The betting office scene is like a mortuary."
Euan Semple says, "Isn't making a smoking section in a restaurant like making a peeing section in a swimming pool?"