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Last Updated: Friday, 11 March, 2005, 14:13 GMT
South: Smirting
Peter Henley
Peter Henley
Politics Editor, BBC South

Lighting a cigarette
Lighting a cigarette in banned in Irish pubs

They call it smirting. Like flirting, but more likely to succeed. It started in Dublin, and you can only do it if you are a smoker.

The Irish Government's ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants has forced smokers in the capital out on to the pavement.

Unable to enjoy a cigarette in the bar, young Dubliners are huddling outside.

Warnings ignored

And in the sharing of a illicit pursuit romance has blossomed. Passing the packet around strangers talk, smirt, and maybe more ...

Of course they are ignoring the warning on the side of the packet, that that they are seriously damaging their health.

They can take comfort that they are keeping smoke away from those who do not want it.

But the wide-ranging consequences of the Irish ban are only now becoming clear.

The pubs are hardest hit. It's estimated that 28m pints have gone unsold and not drunk.

Job losses

With prices dropping it is estimated 2,000 jobs have been cut and at least 50 pubs are up for sale, in rural areas as well as the city.

But whilst the pub trade sales are down 7% off licence sales are up by almost as much.

James Boyle, the owner of Harry's Bar in the Earl of Kildare hotel, said: "There is no doubt that the number of customers is down.

"Instead of investing their money in sensible things like nights out and drinking they are squandering them on mortgages and children's education," he joked.

Health professionals, however, are delighted.

Image of smoking
England is adopting a partial ban

Challenging targets

Poole Primary Care Trust (PCT) wants to encourage people to stop smoking for their health - but also to protect people who work in smoky places.

The PCT has challenging targets to meet.

They started out at 200 people a year, then went to 400, this year it is 900 and next year its 1400.

The Borough of Poole are backing the Primary Care Trust, with cross-party support to bring in a new by-law restricting where people can smoke.

And they can show that public opinion is on their side.

The council asked Bournemouth University to conduct a survey on the residents of Poole.

The results showed that 76% wanted a total ban, 14% were against one and 10% did not know.

Resident leaving?

If the ban comes in, however, one man may well be on the first flight out of the country.

James Leavey says if his local goes smoke free, he will open his doors to other smokers as a smokers refuge.

The cigar smoking resident of the Isle of Wight feels smokers have been persecuted too far.

"Until now most smokers have tolerated what are in many cases are unofficial and often unenforceable"

He says "Confronted with yet another 'No Smoking' sign we meekly extinguish whatever we're enjoying - anything for a quiet life.

"But does it ever occur to non-smokers, and our more rabid critics, that smokers have rights too?

"And that some of us are fed up with being classified as social outcasts?"

Politics Show

Join Peter Henley on Politics Show, BBC One on Sunday, 13 March, 2005 at 12.00pm.

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