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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 November, 2003, 15:57 GMT
Smoking in public: Global opinions
As a group of the UK's top medical professionals call for a ban on smoking in public places, we take a look at other parts of the world that have tried to do the same, with varying results.

Abhishek Prabhat, BBC Delhi

Smoking in public places is banned in Delhi and a lot of other parts of India but it hasn't made any difference. This is because the ban has never really been implemented - there are meant to be fines if you are caught smoking in restaurants, railway stations and public buildings, but to my knowledge no-one has ever been caught or fined.

An estimated 1m people die every year in India from tobacco-related causes and majority public opinion was behind the ban but it was passed without anyone really considering how it would be enforced.

Lack of money and resources has meant it has had no impact in India and is openly flouted.

Ebru Dogan, BBC Turkish section

Smoking has been banned in most public places in Turkey since the late 1990's. It is forbidden to smoke in hospitals and schools, buses and trains, all government buildings. Some of the big shopping malls and office complexes have followed suit.

But try to ban smoking in restaurants, bars and cafes and you could end up with a revolt! Turks are usually known for their addiction to strong coffee and strong tea, which, for half the population at least, cannot be properly enjoyed without a cigarette.

Come tea time, it is not unusual for dinners (and dinner table conversations) to last for several hours, especially if accompanied by the local drink, Raki. A packet of cigarettes is finished before you know it - it is considered bad manners to keep your packet to yourself.

It is also the best way to start a conversation with your taxi driver - but to be avoided at all costs in public places during the holy month of Ramadan, when most people are fasting.

So, the government may have moved early to impose a smoking ban for public places, but it has so far not convinced the private sector to do the same. Indeed, walk into any restaurant in Turkey, and the chances are you will get the best places only of you are a smoker. Non-smokers, follow me to the back please.

James Helm, BBC Dublin correspondent

In Ireland, you hear a lot about this country's so-called "pub culture". So it's only natural that such a radical change to the atmosphere in pubs, as proposed by the smoking ban, is the cause of much lively bar-room debate and a few concerns.

Publicans groups warn that the ban, due to be introduced by the end of February 2004, could mean smokers staying out of bars, and the net result being job losses. But there are others who believe that thick, smoky air is one ingredient of the traditional Irish pub that customers can do without.

As for the drinkers, they are split between those who object to what they see as their right to a cigarette with a pint being taken away, and others who welcome the change.

The Government says the smoking ban is a public health issue; opponents say it's all about civil rights. Either way, a ban on smoking in the workplace - and that will include pubs and restaurants - is close to becoming a reality in Ireland.

Karen Allen, BBC health correspondent in Norway

Norway is due to bring a national ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and cafes next summer. This is some consolation for smokers who will have to take their habit outside and puff away in temperatures of minus 20 degrees during the harsh Scandinavian winters.

The aim of the ban is not only to protect staff that work in these establishments from the harmful effects of passive smoking, but also to "de-normalise" smoking as a social pastime. One in three people in Norway smoke, and there has been a rise in tobacco-related deaths.

A packet of cigarettes costs about 6 in Norway - but people can still afford to smoke, as the country has the highest per capita income in the world.

Rachel Clarke, BBC news online Washington, USA

In the United States, there are no nationwide laws banning smoking, but various states, counties and cities have taken the often controversial initiative. California and Delaware, for instance, have banned smoking in enclosed workplaces, including restaurants and bars, while Utah prohibits smoking in restaurants.

Emphasis is often placed on protecting the health of employees. The laws arouse passions on both sides, with some bar owners saying their businesses are being destroyed, smokers saying their rights are being infringed and non-smokers delighting in a fresher environment.

Maryland's Montgomery County neighbouring Washington DC became one of the latest municipalities including Honolulu in Hawaii, Helena in Montana, New York City and El Paso in Texas to introduce public smoking restrictions. Diners and drinkers now have to go outside should they wish to smoke a cigarette.

The BBC's Jon Kay
"The government say it has no plans for a compulsory ban"

Q&A: Passive smoking
25 Nov 03  |  Medical notes
Charity backs anti-smoking bill
08 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Debate on smoking ban
28 Oct 03  |  London
Norway gets tough on smoking
24 Oct 03  |  Health
EU public smoking ban considered
19 Sep 03  |  Health
Warning over second-hand smoke
02 Sep 03  |  Health


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