Bermuda's smoking ban comes into full force this weekend. And there are no exceptions.

From Sunday, any bar or restaurant that allows smoking indoors can be fined up $1,000.

Banning smoking in public places actually came into affect on April 1, but there has been a six-month grace period, which meant establishments could let people smoke without being fined.

But that period ends on October 1 - and it's applicable to all enclosed public places, even private clubs.

Chief Medical Officer John Cann told us yesterday that a lot of places have already phased out smoking, but others have been riding it out for as long as possible.

He said the Health Ministry received about 20 applications for exemptions, but that the Minister, Patrice Minors, "declined to consider them", based on recommendations from environmental health officers, who visited the applicants' premises.

Some of those premises are taking the news on the chin. Ivan Place, the owner of Place's Place on Dundonald Street, said:

"What can I do? The law's the law."

Mr. Place reckons about 80 per cent of his customers smoke. He said: "They're just going to have to pop out of the door. There won't be any choice but to go outside."

Private clubs, like Queens Club in Hamilton, that had applied for an exemption, say they're disappointed that they had to hear the news from us.

"The Government should have had the courtesy to contact us directly," Joseph Hayward, the club's president said.

However, he added the club has dedicated members and he doubts it will affect business. "We will have to abide by the law," he said.

Billy Adcock, the vice commodore of the Spanish Point Boat Club, said they had a vote and the majority voted in favour of the ban. "No one has been smoking in here since April," he said.

While the ban is obviously good news for the clean air lobby, it's struck a blow to smokers.

LaVerne Furbert, an administrative assistant at the Bermuda Industrial Union is fuming over the decision.

She told us: "I am very disappointed that the Minister did not see fit to exempt those clubs which made requests to her.

"I believe that by banning smoking in clubs and/or bars where only alcohol is served will cause them to close as most patrons who frequent these places also smoke."

Mrs. Furbert, who says she'll probably stay at home instead of making the effort to go out and then having to stand outside to smoke, said:

"I do not have a problem with smoking being banned from restaurants and other enclosed places, but I believe that to ban smoking in bars is ridiculous."'

Accepting it

But most bar owners we spoke to either welcome the ban or at the very least, accept there's nothing they can do about it. The ban does not apply to patios or verandas.

Gladwyn Phillips, who runs Casey's Lounge on Queen Street, had Pitt and Co. remove its cigarette machine on Wednesday.

He said: "As far as we are concerned, it's something that should have been done years ago.

"We're in the process of fixing up the patio. Our clientele are very loyal and I'm sure that if they want a cigarette, they'll just go outside."

Phil Barnett, who runs the Hogpenny and Pickled Onion and is head of the restaurants and pub division of the Chamber of Commerce said the big concern prior to today's announcement was whether some bars would be granted exemptions.

Yesterday he said: "A level playing field is always the best field to play on."

Dr. Cann said the reason for banning smoking is quite simple.

"The ban is taking place because smoking still remains the number one preventable cause of death in our country," he said.