The chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland has welcomed the government's announcement that legislation banning smoking in public places will come into effect in the country on 30 April 2007.
Dr Brian Patterson said it was "excellent news for all workers in Northern Ireland".
"Each week one person here dies from inhaling other people's tobacco smoke. The introduction of this legislation will go a long way to stopping this happening," he said.
"This legislation is not about restricting civil liberties, it is about protecting workers and non-smokers from the effects of harmful tobacco smoke."
Patterson called on employers to comply with the legislation and for the government to increase investment in smoking-cessation programmes to help people who want to quit.
A decision on what date to introduce the legislation in England has yet to be made.
By Mike Berry