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Britain bans smoking in public places

world Updated: Jul 03, 2007 02:12 IST
Vijay Dutt
Vijay Dutt
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

It’s certainly not good news for smokers in Britain as UK implemented a complete ban on smoking in public places with effect from Sunday.
People will not be allowed to smoke in bars, hotels, clubs or any other enclosed public area.

Health Secretary, Alan Johnson, hailed the introduction of the ban — the biggest smoking ban in the world — as an important step towards a healthier population. Over three-quarters of the general public and 73 per cent of regular pub-goers support the ban, according to the Department of Health.

"Labour has taken action to protect people from smoke in their workplace, pub or cafe. A smoke-free country will improve the health of thousands of people ... I am thrilled that my first major announcement as Health Secretary enacts the single most important public health legislation,” he said.

Only prisons, submarines and hospices are exempted. The only option left for people is to go to pubs that have invested in outside facilities. Mot country pubs and a few in cities which have open spaces are also planning to put up marquees and heaters during winters.

The pro-smoking campaign, Freedom2Choose, estimates that up to 3,000 of its members — including owners of social clubs — may refuse to implement the ban. The group has challenged the ban on human rights grounds at the High Court in a bid to "fight against injustice and erosion of freedom and personal liberties".

A leading expert on the effects of tobacco, Professor Sir Richard Peto, said that it will prevent up to half a million deaths a year on the experience of Ireland, where cigarette sales fell by 17 per cent. A similar trend in England could lead to 1.5 million people quitting smoking, where sales of cessation products such as nicotine patches and gum have been rising for weeks.

England was the last part of the UK to ban smoking, following a ban in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Irish Republic has also banned smoking in public. Anyone lighting up in a public place faces a £50 fine — reduced to £30 if paid within 15 days. Owners of pubs, clubs and cafes face much stiffer punishment, with fines of £2,500, for every cigarette smoked at their premises.