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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 04:07 GMT 05:07 UK
Majority back public smoking ban
People smoking
Ministers have rejected calls for a ban
A majority of British adults favour a total ban on smoking in public places, a survey suggests.

A poll of more than 1,500 people by market analysts Mintel found 52% support for a ban, including two-thirds of non-smokers.

Around one in three smokers also backed the idea but 25% said they would avoid places where a ban was in force.

Pressure is building for the UK to follow the Irish Republic, which introduced a workplace ban this April.

The fact that a significant proportion of smokers support a ban on smoking in public places highlights that many do have a conscience
Amanda Lintott
In recent weeks the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Chief Medical Officer have urged the government to outlaw smoking in pubs, restaurants and workplaces.

A study published this week by Imperial College London found that second-hand tobacco smoke at work kills hundreds of Britons each year - including almost one hospitality industry worker a week.

Amanda Lintott, a Mintel consumer analyst, said: "The fact that a significant proportion of smokers support a ban on smoking in public places highlights that many do have a conscience.

"They are aware that their habit can be detrimental not only to their own health, but also to the health of those around them."

The research also found that 15% of smokers would quit smoking if a ban were to be introduced.

Other findings included:

  • 27% of all adults - and 18% of smokers - object to the taxpayer footing the bill for treating smoking-related illness
  • Only 25% of all adults believe the policy of heavy taxation to discourage smoking is flawed
  • Only 34% of consumers - and 29% of smokers - believe hard-hitting anti-smoking campaigns are the best way to discourage smoking
  • Almost 70% of smokers believe that giving up smoking is all down to willpower
  • Over a quarter (26%) of smokers who would like to quit do not believe that products such as nicotine gum and patches would help them

Research has shown that more than a quarter (28%) of all adults smoke, while 43% have tried to give up at some point - and around one fifth (21%) are trying to do so now.

Ian Willmore, of the charity Action on Smoking and Health, said: "This is yet another piece of evidence that public opinion wants action on the dangers of second-hand smoke.

"An end to smoking in the workplace would save perhaps 700 non-smokers' lives every year in the UK and would help many thousands of smokers to quit.

"A new law is necessary and overdue. The time for consultation is over - the time for government action has arrived."

Smokers' rights

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' rights organisation Forest, said the report posed more questions than it answered.

"For instance, were respondents given the choice of smoking and no-smoking areas or better ventilation as alternatives to a ban, or were they simply asked to choose between smoking being allowed or prohibited?

"Of course some smokers will support a total ban but, according to this report, that still leaves 71% opposed to a ban.

"That is a hell of a lot of people and they need to be accommodated, especially in pubs, clubs and restaurants, otherwise a lot of people, and businesses, are going to suffer.

"The truth is that most independent research suggests that while a large majority favour restrictions on smoking, only a minority support a total ban in pubs and restaurants. This report, while interesting, doesn't change that."

Smoking at work 'kills hundreds'
16 May 04  |  Health
Call to stub out public smoking
22 Apr 04  |  Politics


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