AFTER almost half a century of passive smoking, publican Frank Collins decided he'd had enough.
But he refused to walk out on his beloved pub, the Dog and Partridge, at Forest Hill Road, Sowood.
While Government plans would not slap a total ban on smokers lighting up in his pub, he chose to do so.
He claimed he did not care if people refused to come back, but to his amazement they did and many more punters came along too.
Frank, 76, has seen a 10% increase in drinkers propping up his bar since the ban came in to force on New Year's Day.
"Most people, even the smokers, don't seem to mind," he said.
"In fact a lot of the smokers have encouraged it, because they say it stops them smoking as much and if they really need a cig they can pop outside.
"I have had a couple of people who have not come in as much, which is their choice. But the amount of new people that have heard about the ban and come down for a drink is incredible."
The Woolpack, Whitley, went smoke-free last June.
The Dog and Partridge is one of the pubs that would be exempt from Government plans to ban smoking in work places, because food is not served.
But Frank, who has been behind the bar for 48 years, thinks all enclosed public spaces should be smoke-free.
Frank, who has not smoked since he pinched a Woodbine from his father when he was 14, said his throat and voice box has suffered because of the years of passive smoking, but he already feels much better.
He said: "The air in the pub is so much cleaner and I am much happier.
"I am certainly not going back now. Even though Wetherspoons' pubs are banning smoking I don't think the Government will have a total ban.
"But drinkers here can enjoy a tipple without the smoke from now on."
Anti-smoking campaigner David Reed, of Ash, said what Frank had done was brave and proved most people did not want smoke-filled pubs.
Mr Reed, of Houses Hill, said: "I think it is brilliant that Frank has decided he should ban smoking.
"And the proof is there. I think he is seeing such a big increase because no other nearby pubs are doing it, but if we take Ireland as an example nothing has changed.
"All it has meant is smokers go outside. Pubs have not suffered and if we get a complete ban like Ash is campaigning for I predict it will be exactly the same in Britain."