Since May 2007 a blanket ban on smoking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces is in effect all over Ireland. The Republic had the first smoking ban in Europe and in 2007 Northern Ireland followed suit. What does this mean to the visitor? Basically that you will be more comfortable in most places if you are a non-smoker. And that you might get more of the Irish weather than you like if you are still puffing away.
Places Where Smoking is Banned in Ireland
Broadly speaking smoking is banned in all workplaces and enclosed public spaces - from the cab of a truck (even if smoking there would not actually affect anyone but the smoker) to the massive shopping malls like the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre. This includes restaurants and even the traditional Irish pub. Most pubs are easily identifiable these days by a throng of smokers crowding the entrance. Braving the weather for a nicotine kick.
As a rule of thumb: If you are not at home or out in the open - don’t even think about lighting up.
This includes all modes of travel from plane to taxi, with open-topped horse-carts being the only exception that comes to mind. The days when you could smoke on the upper deck of doubledecker buses are long gone ... then again in those days you sometimes thought the whole bus was on fire.
Exceptions to the Irish Smoking Ban
There are certain exceptions to the smoking ban, including building sites, prisons and mental hospitals - none of these holding any attraction for most visitors.
There is also the curious problem that Irish law bans specifically "tobacco smoking", a certain Moorish café in Dublin (Amir's Delights) can legally offer you a hookah pipe.
Can I Smoke in my Irish Hotel Room or Rental Car?
Here is the good news - hotels will generally be able to provide rooms where you can smoke in. Simply ask when booking. This leniency, however, does not extend to the common areas of hotels. Smoking in dining areas or bars will still be banned.
Rental cars these days are more than likely to be sporting a "No Smoking" sign on the dashboard. Enquire beforehand with the rental car companies if you need to have a smoke while driving. The smoking ban should not extend to rental cars per se.
Rules of Outdoor Smoking
Outdoor smoking has become so popular that "smirting" has been created - flirting while sharing a smoke. Obviously this only works in good weather, otherwise a few deep drags before you're soaked to the skin are the norm.
If you have to join the unfortunates - make sure you do not block any entrances or pathways, this can lead to aggression. And never flip a cigarette casually into the gutter, even though everybody seems to do it. If caught doing this (by a very bored or over-zealous official) you might have to face an instant charge of more than € 100 for littering. Choose an ashtray ...
The Good News ...
Well, not really ... but going on a holiday in Ireland is a good moment to stop smoking. The price of cigarettes is high and rising and many visitors will pay at least double the price they are used to. And with the less and less cosy places to have "a fag" (slang for a cigarette) you'll not miss a lot.