Hoewel een regeringsdelegatie uit Engeland van de Ierse overheid alleen maar positieve verhalen te horen krijgt, blijkt de situatie rond het rookverbod in Ierland anders te liggen dan de belanghebbenden doen voorkomen.
Verslaggevers van de Telegraph troffen, vooral aan de westkust, heel wat pubs en restaurants aan die hun klanten gewoon laten roken in de zaak. De kans om gepakt te worden is met 40 rookpolitieagenten erg laag. En 50% omzetderving mét een rookverbod is ook geen kattepis, redeneren de eigenaren van de etablissementen.
The cross-party group, having sampled the fresh air of Dublin’s pubs and restaurants, listened enthusiastically as Irish politicians and enforcers of the ban spoke of the public’s near total compliance with it.
“The smoke-free law in Ireland is clearly popular,” said David Taylor, a Labour MP and chairman of the parliamentary group on smoking and health.
“We will seek to apply the lessons learned from Ireland to Britain.”
However, along Ireland’s rugged west coast, a traditional haven for revolt, a silent rebellion has taken hold.
Pubs are allowing customers to smoke in rooms and restaurants after food has been cleared. Despite the threat of a £2,000 fine and possible loss of their licences, landlords, some of whom have suffered a 50 per cent drop in sales, quietly allow customers to smoke.
With only 40 “smoke police” from the Office of Tobacco Control, Ireland’s 15,000 publicans are taking the risk in the hope that their distance from Dublin gives them a good chance of escaping prosecution.
In a town in Co Kerry popular with tourists – even the Hollywood stars Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt have been there – at least half a dozen pubs are operating secret smoking rooms. In one traditional bar packed with locals and several tourists, people who asked where they could go for a cigarette were shown to a back room.