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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 May 2006, 11:24 GMT 12:24 UK
Europeans back public smoking ban
Office workers smoking in street
Only 27% of 29,000 people polled said they were smokers
Four fifths of EU citizens support a ban on smoking in offices, shops and other indoor public spaces, according to a poll marking World No Tobacco Day.

However, they are less sure when asked specifically if they support a ban in bars - in this case, 61% are in favour.

The poll of 29,000 people suggests support for restrictions is strongest in states where they already exist.

And only 27% of people said they smoked - down from 33% in 2002, when the EU consisted of 15 members instead of 25.

The research was carried out in the last four months of 2005, in the 25 existing member states, plus Bulgaria and Romania, Croatia and Turkey.

Bans in place

Other results of the Eurobarometer poll include:

  • 95% said smoking in the presence of a pregnant woman could harm the baby
  • 75% said they would not smoke in the presence of a child
  • 75% said they were aware smoke could be dangerous for non-smokers
  • 57% of women have never smoked, compared to 35% of men
  • 53% of people aged 15 to 24 were worried about second-hand smoking
  • 22% say they have given up smoking

The study recognises that there is a clash between some of the figures indicating support for smoking bans.

"On the whole, a majority of European Union citizens seem to be in favour of banning smoking in public places," it says.

Office/indoor workplace: 86%
Any indoor public space: 84%
Restaurants: 77%
Bars or pubs: 61%
Percentage of respondents totally or somewhat in favour
But it adds: "Support for a ban seems to be less clear-cut in the case of restaurants, bars and pubs."

The world's first nationwide smoking ban in public places was imposed in Ireland in 2004.

Italy and Scotland have outlawed smoking in enclosed public places and the rest of the UK is following suit in 2007.

Of all the countries surveyed, support for a ban in smoking in bars was highest in Italy, at 88%, and lowest, at 35%, in the Czech Republic.

Big smokers

More and more of us don't smoke and don't want to be anywhere near smokers either
Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou

"I urge all member states to take stronger actions against tobacco - this survey shows that in doing so they have the backing of the public," said EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou.

"More and more of us don't smoke and don't want to be anywhere near smokers either."

The poll suggests that young people are the most likely to find smoke unpleasant, for reasons such as its smell.

The EU's most enthusiastic smokers are in Greece, Cyprus and Portugal.

Almost 40% of Greeks and Cypriots smoke between one and 29 cigarettes a day, while 18% smoke 40 or more.

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