Smoking bans are government prohibitions on tobacco smoking in quasi-public indoor areas such as offices, restaurants, and hotels. (Outright bans on smoking altogether are rare, although in many jurisdictions, the sale of tobacco to minors, or minors under a certain age, is also prohibited. Such laws have been introduced by many countries in various forms over the years, with legislators citing health statistics that show tobacco smoking is sometimes fatal for the smokers and those subjected to secondhand smoke.
Bans in various countries
New Zealand passed the Smokefree Environments Amendment Bill in December 2003,
Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in all work places (and hence bars and restaurants) in March 2004,
Australia, Norway, Montenegro, parts of the U.S. (New York, California) and Canada have imposed bans on smoking in bars, clubs and restaurants.
France and Russia enacted earlier allow for smoking sections in restaurants, or special rooms for use by smokers in other workplaces.
In the US, smokers and hospitality businesses initially argued they would suffer disastrously from smoking bans, with many of them going broke. However, the experiences of New York and California have showed that many such businesses do survive. Still, stiff opposition to these smoking bans from smokers, bar owners, and even some non-smokers, is still prevalent in these two states.
In Ireland, the main opposition was from publicans, along with a minority of pub-goers. The Irish workplace ban was introduced with an argument of protecting others against passive smoking. There was widespread opposition before the ban, but by and large, since the ban's introduction it has become largely accepted, due in part to "outdoor" arrangements at many pubs (involving heated areas with shelters). The government and much of the public views it as a success, and many other European governments are considering similar legislation. Public health lobbyists in Northern Ireland have lobbied for a similar ban there also.
The debate over whether a total ban should be implemented is still ongoing.