Irish pubs are suffering a significant loss of business due to the smoking ban, a report has claimed.
According to 'Forest Eireann' (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), a new group representing beleaguered smokers, the smoking ban has been the main cause of the closure of many Irish pubs.
Forest spokesperson John Mallon told the press that 'smokers have no rallying place at all and this group is a small start towards changing that. A lot of publicans have told me they have been forced to close up due to business being so bad and that the smoking ban was a huge cause of this.
'Many have said that they didn't declare how bad things were in previous years as they didn't want to de-value their business further,' Mallon said.
A recent report compiled using data from the Revenue Commissioners, found that despite a host of other contributing factors, the demise of Irish pubs had a close statistical relationship to the introduction of the smoking ban in 2004.
Since then more than 1,000 Irish pubs have closed their doors - including some prominent rural bars. 'I don't believe the smoking ban has a direct relationship to the downturn of business but it has changed people's attitudes to drinking.
'I'm not saying Irish people don't drink as much but they certainly drink differently,' publican Alan Grainger whose family has run the famous Grainger's pub on Dublin's Talbot Street for 50 years, told the press.
'There's a multitude of reasons why more and more people are staying at home, such as the drink-driving laws, the effects of the recession, competitive pricing in supermarkets as well as the smoking ban. I wouldn't think there is more weight on one issue more than another.'
Meanwhile Forest wants the Government to relax the smoking regulations so 'people can light up in a warm and comfortable environment.'