Centuries of tradition were overturned in March 2004 when smoking in bars and all other workplaces was banned. The measure was pushed through by a crusading health minister in the teeth of opposition from the politically powerful hospitality industry.
Although controversial to begin with, smoke-free pubs and other workplaces quickly came to be regarded as the norm and the Irish Republic has been visited by delegations from a number of other countries contemplating anti-smoking moves.
A smoking ban encompassing all enclosed public places - including pubs, restaurants and hotels - is due to come into effect in April 2007. Smoking is already banned in government offices and other institutions. Making the announcement last October, Northern Ireland Office minister Shaun Woodward said: "No one has a right to subject colleagues and workmates to the dangers and hazards of second-hand smoke and passive smoking." He, of course, represents an English constituency - where the proposed ban is much less complete.
Although the Northern Ireland policy could be changed if a new powersharing government is formed in Belfast, the expectation is that it would go ahead as planned. No major political party has voiced opposition.
Of the four countries of the UK, England is the only one going for a partial ban, due to be introduced in April 2007. This will permit smoking in pubs that don't serve food. It has provoked widespread protests that it will be unworkable. The Government has promised a set of guidelines - but they are unlikely to be simple.
A complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places in Scotland comes into effect at 6am on Sunday 26 March following a unanimous decision by the Scottish Executive last November. It will be an offence - with a minimum penalty of £50 - to light up, or allow others to do so, in " no-smoking premises", defned as enclosed locations which are used by the public.
All restaurants, bars and cafes are now smoke-free. Ventilated smoking rooms where food and drink is not served can be set up.
Under current legislation, smoking is only banned in schools and government buildings open to the public. Transport and council services must have individual smoke-free policies.
Buses, underground trains, cinemas and theatres have been no-go areas for smokers in Germany for more than 30 years. However a powerful tobacco industry and the fact that the Nazis offcially frowned on smoking, have led post-war German legislators to avoid the imposition of more Draconian measures. Mainline trains still have smoking carriages, for example.
Last year the government reached a voluntary agreement with restaurant and pub owners for the creation of limited no-smoking areas in 30 per cent of all licensed premises.
The partial smoking ban is scheduled to be extended to 90 per cent of all pubs and restaurants by 2008 when owners are requested to ensure that 50 per cent of their premises are reserved for non smokers.
Smoking is completely banned in healthcare, educational and government facilities, indoor workplaces and offices, theatres, cinemas and public transports although separate areas for smoking may be provided.
Discussions are underway regarding a complete smoking ban and new amendments to curb smoking in restaurants and prevent employees being exposed to ambient tobacco smoke should come into effect in summer 2006.
The Tobacco Act of 2001, amended in 2004, imposes a complete ban on smoking in healthcare, education and government facilities, indoor offices and workplaces, as well as theatres and cinemas although in all these areas special smoking areas are permitted.
From July the current smoking ban, which includes public buildings and workplaces, will be extended to cafes, bars and restaurants. Designated smoking areas will be provided. Smokers who step outside for a cigarette will be subject to a ban on lighting up within 10 metres of a public building.
Designated rooms are provided in all workplaces, as well as in all health, educational and government facilities. A complete ban on smoking on public transport is enforced, but long-distance trains and planes have smoking areas.
Smoking ban in force in workplaces and public buildings. No plans to extend this at present.
Employers must provide adequate protection for non-smokers. Designated smoking areas may be provided. A 1997 Child Protection Act also states that children have the right to be protected from environmental hazards and substances harmful to health.
2006 ushered in a complete smoking ban in all workplaces. From January 2007, a ban on smoking in restaurants will be enforced.
No current legislation, but there are moves to introduce a complete ban on smoking in the workplace.
A 2004 bill cut down on smoking in public places and the government aims to reduce tobacco consumption by 80 per cent by 2008. This year smoking rooms will be set up in eating establishments, with the aim of phasing out smoking in public.
Smoking in hospitals and schools is prohibited.
A 1997 law requires employers to impose bans on smoking in workplaces frequented by non-smokers.
Smoking is banned on public transport and in workplaces where non-smokers could be exposed to tobacco smoke. It is also forbidden to smoke in restaurants during breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Three days after Spain introduced a law banning smoking at work and in closed public spaces, there is a growing movement to assert what many consider their inalienable right to smoke. Meanwhile, since 1 January, 25,000 people a day have sought medical advice on how to stop.
Petrol stations, news stands and shops that function as bars are trying to circumvent the law that bans them from selling cigarettes, and which has cut their income by up to 20 per cent.
Spain's 12,000 outdoor news vendors feel particularly aggrieved: smoking is permitted in the open air, but sales of cigarettes are confned to specialist tobacco shops (where you cannot smoke).
Offces and factories are now smoke-free. Offenders pay fnes of up to €600 (£414) and employers warn that time lost to unauthorised "smoking pauses" will amount to 14 days a year per smoker. You can smoke in the open air and in bars and restaurants smaller than 100 square metres. Numerous small bars in Spain have opted to become smokers' refuges, generating a worse fug than before.
Larger bars and restaurants may demarcate a smoking section of up to 30 per cent of the space, and have eight months to complete the structural alterations. This poses problems for large wedding parties, where the father of the bride traditionally hands out cigars to his guests. (They can only smoke in the smoking areas, where children are prohibited.)
A massively oversubscribed government helpline reveals grey areas that caused even offcials to scratch their heads. Can a lorry driver smoke in his enclosed cab? (Yes, it's not a "work centre".) What about massage parlours? Yes, if rooms are designated "smoking". Unexpected opposition has emerged from women at the hairdressers, long accustomed to smoking under the drier. Now they must step into the streets, even in their rollers.
Total ban on smoking in public buildings, as well as on public transport when journeys last less than an hour. Partial restrictions on smoking on aircraft are enforced.
The law on smoking in public places in France, dating from 1991, is vaguely worded and unevenly applied. The anti-smoking lobby is pressing for much tougher rules, comparable to those in Ireland and, now, Spain.
Under Article 16 of the Loi Evin of January 1991 - which mostly deals with restrictions on alcohol and tobacco advertising - smoking is banned on all public transport and in "places used collectively", except in "areas reserved for smokers".
The French railways, the SNCF, have gone further than the law and abolished smoking carriages. However, many bars and restaurants interpret the law loosely and declare their whole establishment to be an "area reserved for smokers".
Austrian law, updated in 2003, prohibits smoking in public buildings and transport, but not workplaces.
Public smoking is banned in many places but special smoking areas are allowed. Cafes, bars and restaurants must allocate space for non-smokers.
Total ban in place since 2005. Bars, restaurants and cafes that wish to allow smoking must provide enclosed areas. The government has the power to impose fines of up to €250 for contravention.
An offcial ban on smoking in all enclosed public places including bars, restaurants and offces came into effect in Italy on 10 January, 2005. Since then the ban has led to an 8 per cent drop in cigarette consumption.
There was some initial resistance from smokers and bar owners. But businesses face a fne of up to €2,000 (£1,395) if they fail to ensure their customers do not smoke. Smokers themselves can receive a €275 (£191) fne.
The law allows smoking only in sealed-off rooms with smoke extractors, but only a few places have bothered to comply.
Generally the law has been accepted.
Smoking is still tolerated at cabinet meetings in the prime minister's offce, where Defence Minister Antonio Martino, a smoker since the age of 18, describes the habit as"a sacred right".
Smoking is currently banned in all public places including entertainment venues, government buildings and on public transport. It is also banned in private cars carrying passengers under 16, but remains regulated in workplaces.