Ireland's smoking ban is being blamed for plummeting bar sales within a year of its introduction, but the government insists the smoke-free policy will deliver a big health dividend as more people quit. \nSales in the country's famous pubs are down 6.3 percent in the last year, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office this week, as customers desert pubs with their new healthy smoke-free atmosphere. \nBut the decline of the pub -- for long the center of much of Irish social life -- may also be part of a fundamental shift in lifestyle as much caused by rising prices, a tougher policy on drunk driving and a shift to greater home entertaining. \nThe health minister in charge of the ban, Sean Power, is overseeing a new advertising campaign "Smoke-free is working -- let's keep it that way" to ensure complacency doesn't creep in and high compliance with the ban is maintained. \nIntroduced on March 29, the ban outlaws smoking in a range of public venues including pubs, restaurants and even company cars. \n"We are getting compliance in the high 90s [percent]," Power said. "Compliance has worked out exceptionally well despite all the reservations, concerns and doubts before the ban took effect." \nPower, a former publican who sold his business two years ago in his Kildare constituency on the outskirts of Dublin, said he was not surprised by the widespread observance of the ban. \n"In general people are law-abiding. This was a measure that, by and large, the people were going to police themselves. Smokers who decided to obey the law weren't going to be too happy to see other people flouting it underneath their noses," he said. \n"The ban has made people very, very conscious of the health dangers. A sizeable number of people are giving up smoking altogether. We have set up a special telephone smoking quit-line to help people and the figures from it are very encouraging," he said. \nAs a former pub owner, Power said he had been strongly lobbied by the trade. \n"That was natural enough. They had invested their money in a pub. But we have to look at the greater good, the bigger picture, and that is what we did," Power said. \nPower said the small numbers of pubs breaching the ban are "paying the price in court" and he expects to see less and less defiance. \nThis week, a publican in the border county of Cavan became the first to be hit for the maximum 3,000 euro (US$3,900) penalty and an additional 1,000 euros in costs. \nPat Barry of Diageo Ireland, which brews Ireland's favorite beer, Guinness, said sales of the "black stuff" were down 6 percent overall in the year to June but the volume of off-license sales for consumption at home had risen. \nHe believes there are bigger underlying social shifts in society affecting the drinks industry. \nA combination of changes -- demographics, tougher drink-driving laws, the increase in working wives, higher mortgage repayments as house prices rise and more entertaining at home -- are all affecting lifestyles in recently prosperous Ireland. \n"There is no doubt about it, the business is changing but the ban is also having quite a significant adverse impact. Some pubs have been affected worse than others, particularly the more traditional ones that don't serve food," Barry said. \n"Up until now, people have been able to go outdoors and have their smoke but it is only from now on through the winter that we will begin to see if people are willing to do that in bad weather," he said. \nA survey for the Licensed Vintners Association (LVA), representing 750 pubs in Dublin, said compliance was excellent in the capital but sales are down by 16 percent. \nIt claims 2,000 full and part-time jobs are being lost in the Dublin pub trade alone. \nLVA chief executive Donall O'Keeffe said it confirmed the "harsh reality of the economic impact of the ban." \n"The majority of Dublin publicans have described the current business climate as being very unfavorable -- without a doubt, the smoking ban has compounded this state of affairs," he said.
Taiwan Plus (@taiwanplusnews), the excellent English-language media outlet, reported last week that water levels were down in Taiwan’s largest reservoir as the nation’s dry season looms. The northern reservoirs may be brimming, but the rains have neglected the south, forcing the nation’s water bureaucracy to scramble to maintain supplies without rationing. Almost a metaphor for the nation’s political geography. There’s no little irony in this happening on the heels of a business-as-usual election in which all incumbents were re-elected. That construct we misleadingly label “mother nature” is sending us another tranche of signals telling us that business as usual is
Winter is the best season — the only season, many would argue — in which long walks near sea level are enjoyable. Remembering that Miaoli County is often very pleasant in the cool season, with little of the pollution that often plagues Taiwan’s south during that time of year, I broke out a map and scanned parts of the county I’m not familiar with. I hoped to work out a route that’d link a few points of interest I’d not visited before, and also begin and end at places served by public transportation. Jhunan Township (竹南), which has a population
In the past few weeks a photograph of Tony Blair and his buddy Bill Clinton sharing a panel with a scruffy kid wearing a T-shirt, baggy shorts and trainers has been doing the rounds. The April event was in the Bahamas and funded by an outfit called FTX — a supposedly “user-friendly crypto exchange”—– owned by the scruffy kid, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF from now on). Blair and Clinton are looking very pleased to be there, providing confirmation of the aphrodisiac effect of great wealth, because the lad who was playing host was apparently as rich as Croesus, or at any
Dec 5 to Dec 11 Recent visitors to Taipei’s Guangzhou Street Night Market (廣州街) may have noticed that the old concrete building with traditional tiled roofs at No. 200, which spans an entire block, is undergoing renovation. Jen Chi Hospital (仁濟醫院) maintains that it was just doing “emergency maintenance” when it partially demolished the building’s second floor walls in September, but the city stopped them and declared last week the 71-year-old structure a historic building. Since it still housed the hospital’s rehabilitation and dentistry departments, the hospital said that the structure was suffering