Background: On the 29th March 2004 the Irish government introduced a comprehensive workplace smoking ban to protect the health of workers. This study evaluates the impact the ban had on staffing levels, customer numbers and smoking rates in a sample of 38 public houses in Dublin.
Methods: A total of 38 public houses were visited prior to the introduction of the ban, each visit lasted at least three hours, and the number of staff, customers and the number of people smoking was recorded each hour. Follow-up visits were conducted exactly one year later, on the same day of the week and at the same time of day, allowing controlling for seasonal and weekday effects.
Results: There was a decrease (8.82%) in average staff levels while customer numbers increased by 11% and there was a dramatic reduction in numbers smoking on a visit to a pub (77.8%).
Conclusions: The hospitality industry predicted major job losses as a consequence of the introduction of the smoking ban; this work has shown that there was no significant decrease in the number of staff employed or in customer numbers. There was full compliance, with no customers smoking inside the public houses following the introduction of the ban. The ban has been good for the industry, staff, and customers.