Since smoking was banned in all public places and work places in Italy more than half a million Italians have given up smoking, according to figures from ISTAT, the Italian national statistics institute, and 21,9 per cent of smokers have attempted to give up the habit. There has been a drop of 5,7 per cent in tobacco sales in the first ten months of 2005 compared to the same period in 2004, or more than 100 million packets of cigarettes less. Research conducted in hospitals in four Italian regions in the first two months of 2005 showed a drop of seven per cent in the number of people suffering from heart attacks.

When the law came into effect owners of restaurants and bar owners feared that they would loose clients, instead many have found that their business has increased because people are happier to eat and drink in a smoke-free atmosphere.

However more than 11 million Italians over the age of 14 still smoke, or about 20 per cent of the population.

Italy and Ireland were the first two countries within the European Union who have introduced a total ban on smoking in public. Spain followed suit this month and some form of ban on smoking in public places is now being debated in the United Kingdom.