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Last Updated: Monday, 16 May, 2005, 18:28 GMT 19:28 UK
Nurses call for wider smoking ban
Smoking bans do not hit hospitality industry profits, the RCN says
Smoking should be banned in all public places to prevent up to 1,000 deaths a year from passive smoking, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said.

The RCN says 600 to 1,000 people die annually from illnesses caused by breathing in other people's smoke.

Spokeswoman Jennifer Percival said it was "unforgivable" a ban in England on smoking in pubs that serve food was not due to come into force until 2008.

Most European countries already had similar bans, she said.

"We have just got a new government, and one of the reasons that the Royal College of Nursing is now calling on this new government is often it's a time to rethink some of the decisions," Ms Percival said.

We have got many thousands of patients who want to go out and socialise but find they can't because there isn't a public places smoking ban
Jennifer Percival
Royal College of Nursing
"The NHS is going completely smoke-free by the end of next year, and I would like to see public places follow suit.

"Public opinion is very much for having smoke-free public places," she added.

Ms Percival said there was no evidence that hospitality industry profits had been affected in countries with smoking bans.

She added: "We have still got many, many pregnant women who may be working somewhere where there isn't a smoking ban.

"We have got people who work in the hospitality industry who don't have any choice perhaps about where they get their jobs.

"And we have got the many thousands of patients that we see as nurses, who want to go out and socialise but find they can't because there isn't such a thing as a public places smoking ban."

'Bars closed'

Smokers' lobby group Forest criticised the claim that hospitality industry profits had not been affected in countries with smoking bans.

"Try telling that to the 200 publicans whose bars have closed since public smoking was banned in Ireland," director Simon Clark told the BBC.

He also disputed the RCN's claim that 600 to 1,000 people died each year from illnesses caused by passive smoking because "there is no conclusive evidence that it is true".

And he said it was "totally untrue" that most European countries had banned smoking in all public places.

"In most European countries, smoking is restricted but it is certainly not banned everywhere," he added.

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