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Last Updated: Wednesday, 24 March, 2004, 05:07 GMT
Majority back public smoking ban
Smoky bar
Many people hate smoky bars
Almost three-quarters of people (73%) who responded to a BBC survey want a ban on smoking in all public places as a way to cut tobacco-related illness.

More than 9,000 people were polled for their views on public health issues.

There was also strong support (81%) for a ban on fast food and sweet adverts on television when children are watching.

Some 72% of respondents said crisps, chocolates and fizzy drinks machines should be banned from all school premises.

Two-thirds (65%) said that bottles of alcohol should carry a government health warning.

The full results of the survey will be presented to the Department of Health, which announced details of its own major consultation on public health earlier this month.

The BBC survey found a lower level of support for the idea of an additional tax on high fat foods - however, this was still favoured by 54% of respondents.

Sexual health

In the arena of sexual health 60% of those who took part in the consultation said that regular, mandatory screening for sexually transmitted infections should not be provided by the NHS for all adults over the age of 16.

However, a higher proportion of those aged 24 and under supported screening (53%) than those aged over 55 (43%).

Nearly two thirds of respondents (64%) said condoms should be freely available on demand to all secondary school pupils.

Again those aged 24 and under were more supportive (72%) than those aged 55 plus (39%).

Despite widespread support for action to combat issues such as smoking and obesity, there was little backing for the idea that people should be penalised for contributing to their own ill-health.

Just one third (33%) said that patients whose medical condition can be linked to smoking, drinking or obesity should be given a lower priority for treatment.

Action needed

Ian Willmore, of the anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: "This poll shows that the public is demanding action to end smoking in the workplace and enclosed public places.

"This is the single most effective thing the government could do to cut smoking rates and protect smokers and non-smokers alike.

"It is time for the government to recognise the overwhelming public demand for action."

Simon Clark, of the smokers' rights organisation Forest, said the findings of the poll contradicted those of other independent surveys.

"These show that the majority of people, while favouring restrictions on smoking, do not support a blanket ban," he said.

"Pubs, clubs and restaurants must be free to adopt a policy that they see best suits their business."

Neville Rigby, of the International Obesity Task Force, said: "We welcome the poll results which support the recommendations we have made to the government to take action along these lines.

"We recommended in submissions to the parliamentary sub-committee investigating obesity that exactly this should happen.

"There should be restrictions on the marketing to children through television and other media and there should be withdrawal of vending machines and other marketing to children in schools."

  • The results of the survey were discussed in a BBC One special, 'Your NHS: For Better or Worse' broadcast at 2100 GMT on Wednesday 24 March.

    The consultation was not a scientific poll. People were asked to answer questions by phone or online. A total of 9,479 people responded.

    The BBC's Kevin Geary
    "It may be only a matter of time before cities in the UK also have compulsory smoking bans"

    Public asked how to boost health
    03 Mar 04  |  Health
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    03 Mar 04  |  Health

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