Farmers smoking around the ring at livestock marts has been described as totally unacceptable by the chairman of Clones Livestock Co-operative Mart, Co. Monaghan, Walter Pringle.

Speaking recently on the Joe Finnegan Show on Northern Sound, Pringle argued that farmers should heed the no smoking signs on display in marts.

He described how some farmers are forced to inhale second-hand smoke around the ring where cattle are sold, as people ignore the smoking ban.

Around the ring on the terrace seating area, you’re effectively breathing in other people’s smoke. I think it is totally, totally, totally unacceptable.

“I think it is very important that all marts not only have the signs up – like we do – that ask people to stop smoking, but there has to be some sort of better reinforcement.

“I even wondered should there be a different area within the mart [where people can smoke]; the big shed where the cattle are housed as opposed to the ring area,” he said.

The Republic of Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the general workplace, enclosed public spaces, restaurants, bars, education facilities, healthcare facilities and public transport almost 14 years ago. The ban was rolled out on March 29, 2004.

Most premises now have no smoking signs erected, which also includes the name of the person that deals with complaints.

An on-the-spot fine of up to €3,000 can be handed to a premises which is caught not enforcing the ban, while a prison sentence can also be handed out if the case goes to court.