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Dateline: Dublin Ireland - Fibber McGee's

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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Fibber Magee's has become the first pub in Ireland to openly defy the country's new smoking ban, allowing customers to light up in a last-ditch attempt to stay in business and incurring the wrath of the government.

The city centre pub in Galway, western Ireland, has seen its business drop by 60 percent since March when smoking in workplaces became illegal.

With ruin staring him in the face, co-owner Ronan Lawless felt he had to act.

"We had absolutely no option," Lawless, 33, told RTE state radio on Wednesday. "We were going to be out of business in the next month anyway."

About 200 people packed into an upstairs room at the pub on Tuesday evening for a cigarette in the first major challenge to the nationwide ban.

Health Minister Micheal Martin described what happened as "an unacceptable defiance of the law" and warned others not to follow suit.

"You can take it from me there will be no holds barred in terms of taking this head-on and upholding the law in all its aspects," Martin said, adding the vast majority of Irish people supported the ban.

The health ministry said enforcement officials, nicknamed "Cancer Cops", had already launched an investigation. Anyone convicted of breaching the anti-smoking law can be fined 3,000 euros (2,000 pounds).

The ban -- an effort to protect employees from passive smoking -- has divided opinion in a country where cigarette smoke and Guinness have been an integral part of social life for generations.

"It is part and parcel of Irish tradition, a pint and a smoke, and please God may it continue," one drinker at Fibber Magee's told RTE.

The Vintners' Federation of Ireland, which represents 6,000 rural pubs, said sales dropped by between 15 and 25 percent in May and June.

"A workable compromise needs to be considered," said VFI President Seamus O'Donoghue. "Members have real and justified fears for the futures of their businesses and for their staff."

But a survey for the Sunday Tribune newspaper last month found the ban had made little or no difference to the majority of Irish pubs. Five percent said sales were up.

The ban has been closely watched around the world. Norway followed Ireland's lead in June and 4,500 British doctors called this week for the government to adopt similar measures.

Should smoking be banned in private places?

Should America ban smoking in private places?

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Should smoking be banned in private places?

Should America ban smoking in private places?

I think it should be left to the choice of the business owner, weather they want to allow a private section for smoking or not. Most places I often go to (Bar, Restaurant, Pool House, etc) have designated smoking areas indoors. The government is doing their damnedest to prohibit smoking as it is, with the tax increases & identification restrictions.

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Sure its unhealthy and disturbs others, but so does eating loads of Big macs

LOL, that was too funny, I had to quote it. I remember one time eating at a fast food place, and somebody was sitting across from me, while eating & chewing with their mouth open, I became so disgusted I had to storm out of there immediately.

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14 years ago they outlawed smoking on airline flights less than two hours. In this short amount of time a former right has been almost taken away from us. I was at a concert several weeks ago and watched an usher make someone put out a cigarette, a legal cigarette. Lawyers like to talk about the slippery slope, when hoping to exclude evidence or some other legal trick; but it took only 14 years to almost totally criminalize smoking. I don't smoke cigarettes but somehow this just seems wrong. What I really don't like is how some people look down on people who smoke like smokers are lacking something in their character. My mom smokes, my dad used to smoke, are they saying that there is something wrong with my parent's characters? I think drinking bottled water is stupid when there is free water all over the place, but I don't make moral judgements about the people who pay for water. I do sometimes question their intelligence. If someone offered me a new pair of shoes for free, or told me that I could pay for a pair of shoes; I didn't even need to major in economics to think I would be making the right choice in picking the free pair of shoes. I'm not some weird shoe freak like some women, it was just the first thing that came to mind. I like the use of "Cancer Cops" which I'm sure are affiliated with the "Character Cops" who are trying rather successfully to PC the whole world. I was at a blackjack table once in Vegas and the dealer asked if one of the players would mind not smoking. I mentioned that it was a casino, maybe another career would have been a good choice if he didn't like smoking. Then I bummed a cigarette from the guy just to further piss off the dealer who wasn't giving me good cards anyway. I smoked it similar to how I would smoke a joint and my head felt kind of weird and my stomach started to hurt. I hate it when I'm acting like a smartass and karma comes back around to get me.

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14 years ago they outlawed smoking on airline flights less than two hours. In this short amount of time a former right has been almost taken away from us.

I've taken many flights around the country, & have never been able to smoke on a flight of any time. It's even worse waiting for a flight in the terminal of a large airport & having to go completely outside, several stories down to smoke. I wounded up getting lost & almost missing a flight at O'Hare airport because of this. I can understand not allowing smoking on a flight, because of hermetic issues, but in a large occupancy, such as an airport, there needs to be smoking designated areas to keep this from occurring.

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At times, at least here in America, I think that anti-smoking legislation is what city governments do when they can't think of something productive to try and accomplish. Catherine can correct me, but I belive Boston just passed some kind of anti-smoking thing. My hometown's mayor Laura Miller, who ran on a platform of how she would fix all the city's potholes, recently joined the crowd, which might explain why the person was asked to put out a cigarette at a concert in Dallas. And for Michael Bloomberg, you may be mayor of NY, but you're no Rudy. I'm so proud to have come from a town who would elect someone for mayor with a political vision that didn't extend farther than an overstated concern for the front-end suspension of her car. What a true visionary. And if anyone tried to oppose the anti-smoking laws the "Cancer Cops" or "Character Cops" would be there to stop them.

This next thing that bothers me probably won't be liked by everyone. But DWI or DUI laws, depending on your state, have gotten a bit unconstitutional. I'm against drinking and driving, however, when someone is stopped for DWI they are asked to take a breath test. Now that would be OK, if they were allowed to refuse. But they are not. If the test is refused then the person loses their license for a period of time, several months I think. Now once you are accused, not convicted, even if have submitted to the test, you have to have an ignition locking device installed on your car to be allowed to drive while awaiting trial. Now personally, I think anyone convicted of a DWI should have their license taken away for at least a year. However, first the suspect is asked to incriminate himself (5th amendment issues), then you are told that if you don't incriminate yourself, your license will be taken away, which to me sounds like blackmail. Even if you agree to incriminate yourself you will have to pay to have a device installed on your car at your own expense to check your breath before you start your car, which brings up due process issues. Now all of this is being done before the suspect is convicted of anything. What happened to 'innocent until proven guilty'? Does it just not apply because no one likes drunk drivers? I like the idea of getting tough on people who drive drunk, but only after they have been convicted of driving drunk. When they are only a suspect, they are only a suspect, and should be treated as such. This happened to a guy I work with and is how I know so much about it. This is not some story about me. I just bought my first car in almost ten years and haven't had time to drink and drive in it yet. Also thanks to the 'car post' on Songfacts for partially motivating me to buy a car. After seeing the posts on that thread I remembered that I used to like to drive at times.

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I think as long as there is a designated, separate area, smoking should be allowed in restaurants. If you are in a bar, health obviously isn't at the forefront of your mind, so deal with it.

Random related thought...if I am on a plane that still has the ashtray in the armrest, I get just a little uneasy. How long has it been since they've made those? Am I on the AMC Pacer of airplanes? ::

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I like what I'm reading.

I am an ex-smoker 3-4 years now, (I forget-it was November)

and smoked for 25 years. I think smokers are "labeled" disfunctional or weak. Undisireable. I don't think it's fair at all. Personally I don't want to be in a smoking environment, but at the same time, tolerance and respect must be adhered to, I believe.

Smoking sections, well I always got a chuckle outta of the saying "a smoking section in a restaurant is like a peeing section in a smimming pool".

Good dicussion though folks. Thanks for your opinions on this. I too agree *private* business owners should have choices of their own, government shouldn't interfer.

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I just don't like it when laws are made simply because the people making the laws know they won't have any opposition. Like the smoking laws. Everyone knows its bad for you, but so are a lot of things. If someone were to oppose these laws they would be accused of condoning smoking or worse encoraging kids to smoke. Things like that.

When I was real young in Texas, the state had what was called 'Blue Laws'. These were an attempt by earlier lawmakers to keep the sabbath holy or something. However, they were concerned with Sunday and not Saturday, which is really the seventh day or sabbath. Stores on Sundays were only allowed to sell 'basic necessities'. The hypocracy of these laws were amazing. You could purchase milk for your baby but not the bottle to put it in. You also couldn't purchase diapers if the baby who had to drink the milk out of the jug happened to soil himself. There was a huge fight in the state legislature about repealing these laws. Their opponents were branded as non-Christian or atheists. The common sense of what it was doing to business owners was of course ignored as Michael Bloomberg and company have chosen to ignore business interests with their smoking laws today. Most businesses would simply close on Sunday rather than try to police their customers when they would bring an unacceptable item to the counter. Most grocery stores would even close. Since Saturday was devoted to soccer, and the stores were closed on Sundays, when were families with two working parents supposed to do their shopping? It was finally pressure from consumers that actually got the lawmakers to repeal these laws. Possibly if votors in New York and other communities, show Bloomberg and the others what they think of their anti-business, anti-smoker laws, their replacements will find other more productive legislation to pass. And the restaurant employees who they are trying to protect from second hand smoke, should choose another career. If you don't like the cold, don't become a ski instructor. If you don't like the sun don't become a lifeguard. If you don't like smoking don't work in a casino or bar. A little common sense is so hard to find at times.

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Nice post Cindy. Blue laws are just one of many contradictions of religious bigots that didn't even follow the gospel. I become so frustrated when would-be christians make judgments or laws that go against what Jesus taught.

Back in the biblical times it was illegal to do any kind of work on the sabbath. Jesus asked what would happen if a farmers donkey/cow fell into a ditch or hole and could not get out. Would not the owner get the cow out on the sabbath?

Jesus even performed a miracle on the sabbath. Opponents picked up rocks to stone Him but He and his disciples were able to get away unharmed. Can you believe it, people are so pig-headed that even a Man which made a blind man see still was not listened to and was about to be stoned to death for healing on the sabbath!

I'm never ceased to be amazed by the lack of common sense and the opposition of hypocrites.

So far as smoking is concerned, I believe consideration and tolerance are needed from both sides and it should be the proprietor's decision whether or not what is or is not done in his/her private establishment.

Freedom of choice is becoming a thing of the past and it's getting worse each and every day.

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