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Pubs reject smoke ban call; ULSTER'S RURAL LANDLORDS FEAR FOR FUTURES.

Byline: VICTORIA BONE

RURAL publicans could be forced out of business if a smoking ban is introduced in Northern Ireland, it was claimed yesterday.

Industry chiefs warned against the ban after the Government said it will become illegal to light up in all civil service buildings from January 1 next year. Fears are growing this could be the first step towards a nationwide crackdown similar to that in the Republic.

Nicola Jamison, chief executive of the Federation of the Retail Licence Trade, said: "Most people who say the Republic's ban has been successful are talking about city centre bars. But country pubs are hit badly because of the culture in rural areas."

Country pubs in the south have seen their turnover fall by 25 per cent since the ban in April.

But from August, the federation will ask its 1,200 members to have designated smoking areas.

Meanwhile, a publican ignored the Republic's cigarette ban and told drinkers yesterday: "You can smoke as much as you want."

Delighted punters puffed their lungs out at Fibber Magee's in Galway after bosses ruled it was now a smoke-friendly zone.

Rebel manager Sean said: "To hell with the ban. My business is down by 53 per cent."

CAPTION(S):

MIRROR: Yesterday; REBEL: Bar boss Sean
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jul 7, 2004
Words:212
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