The Irish Smoking Ban Explained

Is Lighting Up Still Legal in Ireland?

They might be licensed to sell it, but you can't smoke the tobacco in there
••• They might be licensed to sell it, but you can't smoke the tobacco in there. © Bernd Biege 2016

Ireland's smoking ban was revolutionary, and after a brief period of confusion and adjustment, it seems to work just fine. Since May 2007 a blanket ban on smoking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces is in effect all over Ireland. The Republic created the first smoking ban in Europe, and 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 double-decker 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 held 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.

Because, no tobacco.

"Vaping", or the use of electronic cigarettes, is generally not affected by the smoking ban, but whether you may or may not vape in an establishment is very much down to the owner. Snuff or chewing tobacco are also not affected by the smoking ban (you do not smoke, i.e. burn, the tobacco).

Can I Smoke in my Irish Hotel Room or Rental Car?

At first, there were good news - some hotels were able to provide rooms where you could smoke in. You simply asked for them when booking. However, this is becoming rarer and rarer, mainly because the rooms are enclosed places of work for the housekeeping staff and thus technically under the smoking ban. Expect almost all hotel rooms to be " nonsmoking" these days. Any leniency never extended to the common areas of hotels. Smoking in dining areas or bars is generally and strictly 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, again cleaning staff may object.

Rules of Outdoor Smoking

Outdoor smoking has become so popular that the term "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. The clusters of smokers around pub entrances can be annoying at times, especially if you have to push your way through the smelly mess to get into (or out of) an establishment.

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. 

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.