Early Start To Smoking Ban Urged

Businesses in Northern Ireland are being urged to introduce the forthcoming smoking ban ahead of its official launch. The smoking ban will come into effect in all workplaces and enclosed public spaces, including bars, from April.

The NI Chest Heart and Stroke Association (NICHSA) said some public houses had already banned smoking. It said, however, that a gradual introduction of the ban would avoid “overnight shock” to employees.

A similar law already exists in Scotland and the Republic of Ireland.

The NICHSA’s Andrew Dougal congratulated bars and restaurants which had already imposed a smoking ban ahead of the deadline.

“We would urge as many others as possible to start 2007 by following suit, but some may prefer to introduce the idea gradually, by, for example, having a couple of smoke-free days a week,” he said. “We would also urge employers to make smoking cessation advice available to those staff who need it.”

Mr Dougal said critics of the legislation should look at the health benefits and accept that Northern Ireland was simply catching up with an international trend.