Image: Irish woman smoking in pub
John Cogill  /  AP file
A patron smokes while reading her newspaper in a pub in central Dublin, Ireland, on Jan. 30, 2003, the day that Irish Health Minister Micheal Martin announced an upcoming ban on smoking in bars, restaurants and the work place.
updated 2/18/2004 11:32:23 AM ET 2004-02-18T16:32:23

Ireland will outlaw smoking in all enclosed workplaces, including pubs, on March 29, the government announced Wednesday.

"I'm confident that this landmark legislation will contribute to protecting the health of the nation," Health Minister Micheal Martin told a Dublin press conference.

"Quite frankly, people should not have to be unwillingly exposed to this toxic substance in enclosed work spaces," he said.

"The bottom line is you don't have to be a smoker to get cancer from smoking."

Martin, who has rejected pressure from pub owners to permit special sections for smokers, originally had hoped to introduce the ban on Jan. 1.

The ban's introduction has been pushed back to enable amendments that, in turn, required approval from the European Commission. The deadline for other EU countries to object to the Irish plans expired Tuesday.

As amended, the ban would not apply in bed-and-breakfasts, hotel rooms, prisons and mental hospitals.

An association of pub and hotel owners is vowing to challenge the ban in court, which could complicate its launch. Leaders of Ireland's more than 10,000 pubs say the ban will be impossible to enforce, particularly on busy weekend nights.

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