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Last Updated: Monday, 29 March, 2004, 15:51 GMT 16:51 UK
Bands 'may be hit by smoking ban'
The Thrills
Irish band The Thrills have played at Whelans
New bands could see audiences fall because of the smoking ban in Irish Republic pubs, a music promoter fears.

If customers smoke in pubs, restaurants and other workplaces, proprietors face fines of up to 3,000 euros (2,000).

Derek Nally, who books acts for Dublin venues Whelans and The Village, says it might deter music fans who smoke.

"People go to great lengths to see established acts and won't be put off by the ban, but smokers might think twice about going to see new acts now."

Mr Nally said he thought "new, younger indie bands might find it harder to attract fans to pubs where they're not allowed to smoke".

But he felt people would adjust to the new ban.

"A smoky atmosphere is no longer a vital part of the Irish music scene," he told BBC News Online.

Woman smoking in a pub
Smoking bans are becoming more common

Mr Nally said a number of acts already ask the audience not to smoke before they perform, in case it damages their voice.

"Christy Moore, who sang Smoke and Strong Whiskey, is one of the performers who doesn't like people to smoke," he said.

Colin Irwin, author of In Search of The Craic, a musical tour of Ireland's pubs, said he thought the ban would be difficult to enforce outside the capital.

"Dublin likes to think of itself now as a modern city with modern values but the music world will see smoking and drinking as part of its heritage and I can't see promoters or landlords having much sympathy with the ban," he said.

"I can imagine security being posted outside to check for the gardai (police)... and it'll be like being back at school with everyone stubbing out fags, swallowing smoke and looking guilty when the teachers catch them lighting up behind the toilets," said Mr Irwin.

Kids wear white garters, and smell like their mothers Whose husbands and fathers alike Drink black beer in the same public houses Smelling of smoke and strong whiskey
Christy Moore

Many Irish publicans have been strongly critical of the ban, saying it will be impossible to enforce, especially on busy weekend nights or in areas where having a cigarette with a pint is a way of life.

Some bars in the capital Dublin have set up wall-mounted ash-trays and heated outdoor areas to enable smokers to circumvent the ban.

But supporters of the ban say that far from putting people off, smoke-free pubs and bars will attract a whole new clientele.

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said a recent survey suggested nearly three in four people who visited a bar in the last two weeks were non-smokers.

The BBC's Vicki Young
"Critics think Dublin's unique atmosphere will be ruined"


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