The smoking ban has not only improved air quality in Irish pubs but also appears to have improved the quality of the music, according to doctors in a letter to this week's BMJ.
The pub session (or seisiún in Gaelic), where musicians gather to play traditional music together, is commonplace throughout bars in Ireland, write John Garvey and colleagues. Instruments include the accordion, concertina, melodeon and Uilleann (or Irish) bagpipes, all of which are bellows-driven instruments.
There is, they say, anecdotal evidence that the interiors of accordions played regularly in smoke-filled environments are dirtied as a result of the trapping of contaminant particles circulating in the air as it filters through the instrument.
So they conducted a telephone survey of all workers involved in the cleaning, repair, maintenance, and renovation of accordions in the Republic of Ireland. They managed to contact six out of seven such workers.
All participants pointed out that a strong smell of cigarette smoke emanated from accordions played in a smoke-filled environment when they are opened. Soot-like dirt is also deposited throughout the instrument but particularly where air enters the bellows through the air inlet valve and on the reeds.
One repairer commented that the deposition of dirt could be substantial enough to affect the pitch of the reed. Two others claimed that if a musician tended to play in a particular key, that this could be determined from the distribution of dirt around particular reeds.
All who were questioned stated categorically that these signs had definitely improved in accordions they had worked on since the introduction of the smoking ban in Ireland.
The authors conclude: "Our results provide further evidence that the smoking ban has improved air quality in Irish bars and its implementation in the face of initial opposition has been music to the ears of the people of Ireland."