A ban on lighting up in most enclosed public places is now in force in Northern Ireland. The new law means smoking is banned in workplaces, including bars and restaurants, as well as public transport.
NI HEALTH MINISTER PAUL GOGGINS
Second-hand smoke is a toxic cocktail of around 4,000 chemicals - many of which cause cancer. It is internationally accepted that there can be no safe level of exposure to second-hand smoke.
Paul Goggins said the law would save lives
Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke are 20%-30% more likely to develop lung cancer - not to mention other illnesses and diseases.
People do not want to breathe in other people's smoke. That was made very clear at the consultation stage of this legislation. By reducing our level of exposure, this legislation will improve health and save lives.
DR MICHAEL MCBRIDE, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER
We know for instance that being exposed to second-hand smoke increases your chance of lung cancer by a third, increases your risk of heart disease by a quarter, increases your risk of stroke.
But over and above that, for children and young people we know that it is strongly associated with pneumonia in children, triggering attacks of asthma and indeed associated with sudden infant death syndrome.
SAM KNOX, NI CHIEF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH OFFICERS GROUP
Today marks a major step forward in the protection of public health, with smoke-free environments contributing to cleaner air as well as healthier environments.
District council environmental health departments across Northern Ireland have been working closely with businesses over the last six months, delivering a coordinated information service on smoke-free legislation.
HEATHER MONTEVERDE, MACMILLAN CANCER SUPPORT
For too long Northern Ireland's lung cancer record has been a source of shame.
Cancer kills more people in this country than any other disease and lung cancer kills more men and women than any other cancer - more than 800 people a year.
We now have a greater opportunity than ever to encourage people to quit smoking and to create a culture change.
SIMON CLARKE, DIRECTOR OF SMOKER'S LOBBY GROUP FOREST
The ban makes Northern Ireland a less liberal, more intolerant place.
Tobacco is a legal product and it is very sad that there is not a single pub, club or bar in the country where anyone can light up without being fined.
The ban is undemocratic because government research shows that a clear majority favour a choice of smoking and non-smoking facilities in pubs and clubs.
ANDREW DOUGAL, NI CHEST, HEART AND STROKE ASSOCIATION
Research has shown that passive smoking may increase the risk of stroke by more than 80%.
Andrew Dougal pointed to the risks of stroke
Second-hand smoke also greatly increases the risk of triggering an asthma attack and adds to the breathing difficulties of those enduring chronic bronchitis and emphysema.
These people will now enjoy a freedom of movement that was simply not possible before now.
DR BRIAN PATTERSON, BRITISH MEDICAL ASSOCIATION
This is a great day for public health in Northern Ireland. It also gives smokers a real incentive to pack in their cigarettes.
Given that they will not be able to smoke in virtually all public indoor premises it makes sense to take this a step further and stop all together.
NICOLA CARRUTHERS, FEDERATION OF RETAIL LICENSED TRADE
Experience from the Republic of Ireland and Scotland shows that businesses who plan early, create a good outside area and have a food offering, will not suffer as much from the smoking ban and may even do well as a result.
However, those landlocked businesses which have not got outside space for smokers are going to have it extremely tough.
This situation has been made worse by the government only announcing six weeks ago their final regulations outlining exactly how the regulations would affect local businesses despite making their initial announcement about the ban nearly 18 months ago.
This has made it extremely difficult for a large number of publicans across Northern Ireland, although they will ensure that this ban is well enforced.
DR BRIAN GAFFNEY, HEALTH PROMOTION AGENCY
Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of premature death and avoidable illness in Northern Ireland.
It claims around 3,000 lives every year - most of which are preventable - and one person dies every two weeks due to exposure to second-hand smoke.
Dr Brian Gaffney said smoking causes 3,000 deaths a year
Everyone has the right to clean air and from today, as people across Northern Ireland make their way into work, they will know that they are guaranteed protection from the deadly effects of second-hand smoke.
GERRY MCELWEE, ULSTER CANCER FOUNDATION
We are absolutely confident that smoke-free Northern Ireland will be an overwhelming success.
All around the world, smoke-free legislation has improved health, been implemented easily and had no negative economic impact. The only harm done is to the tobacco industry, which dislikes both people smoking less and tobacco products being shown for what they are - lethal.
Despite the triumph of going smoke-free in public places, the appalling truth is that smoking still kills too many people. Going smoke-free is a platform for further action rather than an end in itself.