There is little support for an outright ban on smoking in pubs, according to a survey of pub staff and customers.
The survey by the Atmosphere Improves Results initiative, which is funded by the Tobacco Manufacturers' Association, found most people supported changes in policy rather than total bans.
Of the 8,000 customers and staff in 142 pubs polled, just 17% said they wanted a complete ban, with 41% preferring a more limited ban at the bar.
Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and chairman of the hospitality industry's Charter Action Group, which is responsible for the current self-regulatory code on smoking, welcomed the findings.
"These results show that our staff and customers have no appetite for a smoking ban. They want smoking restrictions that work for their own pub or bar - not blanket legislation," he said.
"Over the last few years we have more than doubled the premises with smoking restrictions and want to work with the Government to achieve even more. There is no great landslide of opinion in favour of a ban - a visit to Ireland's empty pubs will show that!" he added.
Speculation has been growing for some months that the Government is poised to announce a ban on smoking in public places, including pubs and restaurants, possibly through new powers for local authorities.
by Nic Paton
Buy this week's Caterer magazine for more industry news and analysis