Laois publicans call smokescreen on the pub cigarette ban

A five to ten percent drop in business would leave some publicans “on the breadline,” Portlaoise vintner Seamus Donoghue has claimed.

A five to ten percent drop in business would leave some publicans “on the breadline,” Portlaoise vintner Seamus Donoghue has claimed.

He said 50 to 60 percent of Vintners’ Federation Ireland (VFI) members were marginalised, with family members having to take part-time jobs.

Mr Donoghue, the VFI Leinster vice-president, was addressing an overflowing meeting of publicans from all over the country in the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel yesterday (Tuesday).

They reiterated their bitter opposition to the proposed smoking ban in pubs - a ban that is to come into force on January 26.

Declared VFI national president Joe Brown: “We have repeatedly insisted that this ban will be impossible to enforce. We are publicans. We are not policemen.”

He added: “we are examining all options available to us, including legal options.”

Banners held aloft at the meeting contained the slogans, ‘No Smoking in Bars, the Law has gone too far’, and ‘Smoke behind Bars, not in the Bar’.

Mr Donoghue, who is also the Laois Hospice chairman, stressed the importance of publicans maintaining a united front on the smoking issue.

Mr Brown asked: “Could this be a smokescreen to hide the disastrous state of the health service?”

He went on: “From the outset, we have offered to work with the Minister and his department to come up with realistic and workable solutions - solutions based on common sense. Our fear of job losses in real. Our fear of pub closures in real.”

Mr Brown warned: “This matter is not over yet, Minister.”

VFI chief executive, Tadgh O’Sullivan said the smoking ban would be unenforceable without the participation of publicans and their staff.