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GO SMOKING; Defiant publican tells his drinkers: Light up any time.

Byline: YVONNE KINSELLA

A REBEL publican defied the smoking ban yesterday and told drinkers: "You can smoke here as much as you want."

Delighted punters puffed their lungs out at Fibber Magees in Galway after management ruled it was a smoke-friendly zone.

Bar manager Sean Joyce, facing a /3,000 fine, said: "I don't care. To hell with the ban. My business is down by 53 per cent. We're ignoring the smoking ban and our customers are fully behind us."

The staff put up posters in the porch of the popular Eyre Square pub on Monday night inviting people to come in and have a cig with their pint.

Sean told the Irish Mirror: "Our sales had gone so far down that we just thought 'feck it, our customers want to smoke with their pints so we're here to look after them'.

"We don't care about the /3000 ban - we'll continue to allow them smoke indoors. Since we put up the posters the pub has been packed.

"Not one customer has complained and today we had the busiest Tuesday that we have in months.

"Word has got around that we are ignoring the ban and the place has been flooded. I don't see the sense in it anyway. The industry has been badly hit since it came in and we don't plan losing any more than we already have.

"We have set up a designated area inside the pub. Customers can't smoke at the bar counter but they can come in and sit in comfort while they have a drink and a smoke.

"The whole ban is ludicrous. We are always packed with locals and tourists and we expect business to go through the roof now that people know we are allowing smoking indoors again. We said on our posters "You Are Now Entering A Smoking Area' and it got an amazing reaction.

"We have no intention of stopping anyone who wants to have a smoke. That's what pubs were made for."

A spokeswoman for the Health Department said last night: "Enforcement of the ban on smoking in the workplace is carried out by Environmental Health Officers.

"While the Department does not comment on individual cases, it is aware that the officers fully investigate reports of people smoking.

"The response to the ban on smoking in the workplace has been very positive to date with compliance nationally in the region of 97 per cent.

But Fibber Magees owner Ciaran Levanzin added: "Quite simply we were left with no option. We had to let a third of our workforce go."

A recent report revealed that one in five smokers now chose not to light up on a night out.

It said: "The number of non-smokers visiting pubs and bars has increased slightly, while the number of smokers visiting has remained the same."

The Republic became the first nation in the world to ban smoking in the workplace on March 29.

CAPTION(S):

HIGHLIGHT: Girl sparks up in Fibber Magees yesterday; FAGS FOR MEMORIES: Polish Tourists enjoy a puff; REBEL: Owner Ciaran Levanzin openly flouts the law; FRONT: Fibber Magees in Galway
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 7, 2004
Words:520
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