The latest victim of Central's massive rent increases is smoke-free Irish pub The Dublin Jack, which is likely to reopen in new premises as a smoking bar after a doubling of its rent. Rent at the Lyndhurst Terrace site is being increased to $280,000 a month, according to managing director Noel Smyth, who is now looking for cheaper premises in SoHo or Lan Kwai Fong. The pub is believed to be the city's only non-smoking bar. 'There's no way we're going to pay $280,000 for 2,800 square feet in a very old building. We'd have to be selling pints of Guinness with diamond rings to afford that,' Mr Smyth said. The bar followed the lead of pubs in Ireland, which all became non-smoking when the government introduced a countrywide ban on smoking in work premises in March last year. 'If the government brings the smoking ban in across the board within the next six months, we will be smoke-free. If they drag their heels and give in to pressure from the smoking sector, then yeah, we probably will have a smoking section,' Mr Smyth said. 'With a $3 million outlay from our investors, they will not want to discriminate against any potential customers so we will have a smoking section.' Huge rent rises forced the original Club 64 out of its Lan Kwai Fong premises late last year to seek refuge in an alleyway below Hollywood Road. The famous Tai Cheong Bakery in Lyndhurst Terrace sold its last egg tart last month when its rent shot up 111 per cent to $80,000. Lan Kwai Fong Association chairman Allen Zeman, who is both a landlord and restaurateur, said he saw the rent issue from both sides. 'Some landlords really do not realise that they are better off having a good tenant who has been in a premises for many years and who is able to pay the rent on time. Also, it enhances the value of the property. 'On the other hand, tenants have to understand that landlords have gone through very lean times in the past few years.' He said doubling rent was 'way too high' and recommended gradually increasing it over several years. Homer Tso Wei-kwok, chairman of the Hong Kong Council on Smoking and Health (COSH), said it was important not to blame The Dublin Jack's non-smoking status for its decision to shift. 'If a business goes under because of high rent, then it's simply because of the rent, it has nothing to do with whether the place is smoking or non-smoking,' he said. He hoped the government's bill banning smoking in public places would be in force by winter. Cosh gave The Dublin Jack special recognition in its Smoke Free Workplace Leading Company Awards last year. The draft legislation is in its second reading in the Legislative Council.