The government is to begin consultation on plans to ban smoking in many public places in England, a day after denying it intends a total public smoking ban.
The government is starting its consultation on a smoking ban
Public opinion will be sought on a document that will outline plans to ban smoking in most workplaces, pubs and clubs, and detail which will be exempt.
Newspaper reports at the weekend had suggested the ban would later extend to all public places but this was denied.
But health groups are expected to urge
the government to go further.
November's Public Health White Paper announced a ban on smoking in all public places where food is served.
But it said that pubs which do not serve "prepared food" would not have to bring in a ban. This distinction will be explained further in the consultation document.
Private members clubs will also be allowed to remain exempt from the smoking ban.
The consultation paper, which will be followed by an 11-week consultation, will give details on how the ban will be enforced and which organisations will be given special exemptions, and will define what constitutes a public place.
It has been argued that institutions such as prisons, residential care and mental health hospitals should not be covered by a ban.
But critics, who have been led by medical groups and the anti-smoking organisation Action on Smoking on Health (Ash), said the proposals did not go far enough.
They argue that the more exemptions there are, the more confusing and unenforcable the ban will be.
They also point out that there are thousands of pubs - many concentrated in the poorest areas where smoking is more common - which either do not serve food or would stop doing so in order to escape the ban.
Ian Willmore, of Ash, said: "This is an unparalleled opportunity, it must not be missed.
"We would like to see the government introduce an outright ban, only then will the public be protected.
"And I think we have a good opportunity to change government minds. I suspect Patricia Hewitt [the health secretary] is more sympathetic to a full ban than her predecessor John Reid."
Mr Willmore also said Ash would be calling for the date for the ban to begin to be brought forward.
The White Paper said the ban would be rolled out from 2006, but would not be fully in place until 2008.
Ash is also set to be joined by health representative bodies such as the British Medical Association, and a host of health charities.
Professor Alex Markham, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "We believe that public support for fully comprehensive smoke-free legislation is stronger than ever, and the government's consultation is an ideal opportunity for people to make their views known."
British Medical Association spokesman Dr Sam Everington said he hoped the government would go on to ban smoking outright in all public places.
He said: "The evidence shows that a ban will have a massive positive impact on public health, potentially saving up to 10,000 lives a year. This really will now protect the 4 million people who have to work in smoke-filled environments."
But smokers' lobby group Forest is launching an advertising campaign to persuade the government to reject the smoking ban.
In a series of adverts which will appear in magazines across the country, Forest will claim the majority of people in the UK do not support a total ban.
Forest director Simon Clark said: "Punitive legislation is unwelcome and unnecessary and would infringe the rights of hundreds of thousands of people, including publicans and restauranteurs.
"Our campaign will ensure that the views and wishes of the UK's silent majority are heard and understood."
Is it time to ban smoking in most workplaces, pubs and clubs in England?
Excellent idea. This will open up several bars and restaurants to non-smokers. For anyone who wants to smoke the answer is obvious - they can take a few steps and smoke outside. Non-smokers do not have this choice.
Steve Morris, Brighton, Sussex
The government should stop pussyfooting around and introduce a total ban now, just like the one in Ireland. If people want to poison themselves they can do it in the privacy of their own homes.
Nanny State comes to mind.
Callan Howarth, Salisbury
Everyone knows that smoking has a detrimental effect on the health of those who smoke and those around them. Why should we have to suffer as a result of another person's choice to smoke? They can do it in their own home. I think there should be a ban in all public places.
E Moore, Southampton, UK
Ban smoking in all public places. There's no plausible argument against such a ban. Just do it!
Nicholas, Burgess Hill, UK
The Scottish government is drafting its own regulations regarding smoking and seems to be bent on a total ban. This, in my view is a step too far at this time. I work in Ireland where such a ban has, I believe, reduced pub sales substantially in some areas and has cost many jobs. I have no issue with the argument that people must not be subjected to passive smoking. But the alternatives, such as designated smoking areas with proper ventilation have not been properly considered. Sure it will be difficult to implement properly but the 'Ban it everywhere' brigade does not seem to be interested in the logic ... only the principle.
Colin McEwan, Edinburgh, Lothian
It is smoking in public places that successfully deters me, a non-smoker, from spending my money in pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants and many other places where smoking is permitted. I am just one of many withholding my custom and curbing my lifestyle to avoid breathing second-hand smoke. The US is years ahead off us in ensuring smoke-free public places. It is time the UK caught up!
Michael Crofton-Atkins, Brighton, UK
Smoking killed my Dad. He never enjoyed his retirement and we all miss him so much. Lung cancer is a truly horrible way to die, but even when they know they are dying they can't stop this evil habit. This cannot go on - just ban it for the good of us all.
Great! As a smoker I would support this consultation and indeed a ban. There is nothing worse than breathing in someone else's fumes while you are trying to eat, for example. A ban like Ireland's would have my full support. Strange, coming from a smoker, but there you go. It would also make it easier to kick the foul habit.
Neil Hopkins, Crawley, UK
This seems ok but doesnt anybody else worry about this being a slippery slope. First, no smoking in public places, then no smoking at all, then no drinking, no shouting, no laughing, no talking and no fun. And once this is all done they will find something else to ban. And im a non smoker.
It's time for a ban...too many people are having their lives cut short. Everyone knows that it can kill you but the addictive nature of cigarettes prevents a lot of people from giving up. The ban would help people to stop. It might hurt smokers in the short term but I believe a year or so after they have stopped they would be grateful to the ban for helping them.
Mark, Kings Lynn, UK
Why are we placing a different value on peoples health depending on which type of pub they work in? Keep it clear and simple and ban it !
In Germany many restaurants do not even have non-smoking areas and it is not uncommon to have people ligt up right next to you while you are trying to eat. Many people I know avoid eating out because of this. Also, cigarette advertising is rife in cineams and billboards and cigarette machines are available on street corners, easily accesible to children. The UK government may be taking it's time to do the right thing, but the German government doesn't even want to start!
I do not agree with a total ban on smoking. It is my right to smoke and the government make a considerable amount of money from my smoking through taxes which easily pays for any health cost tot he NHS.
Howard John Dell, Chelmsford Essex
The decision on whether to allow smoking on premises of whatever kin should be the choice of the proprietor alone, it is nothing to do with government or the health lobby.
Peter, New Bradwell, UK
How about the rights of non-smokers to spend an evening out without having to have their air polluted by smokers. Every single smoker knows that its bad for their health, every single smoker knows its bad for the health of the people around them, so why continue. If you wish to smoke, do it outside or in your own home. Then sign up for private health care so I dont have to pay for you to be looked after when you develop lung cancer. As far as I am concerned an outright ban of smoking in all public places will save thousands of lives and pounds for the NHS.
No-one likes a reduction in freedom at first, but as with the clampdown on cars with respect to speeding, emmissions, recyclability etc if it saves even one life logically you'd have to say it's worth it and this will save thousands of people, pounds, and help keep the country cleaner.
Tim Blundell, Leicester
I can understand the potential ban of smoking in places where food is served but I feel that any ban should be at the discretion of the manager or landlord and not mandatory. It should be the consumer's choice where to eat (or not) depending on the establishment's smoking policy and then see if the manager/landlord changes their policy based on takings.
Jason, Sunbury UK
Bring it on! As a reformed social smoker, I cannot wait until the day when I come out of a bar or club with my clothes no longer stinking of somebody else's cigarettes, and I don't wake up the following morning feeling as if I've unwittingly inhaled an entire newsagent's stock of tobacco.
I live in Italy and since 1st January 2005 smoking has been banned in public places ie restaurants, bars and shopping centres. It has proved very popular and it works. If the heavy smoking Italian population can refrain from smoking, then there should be no reason why the British can't adopt the same attitude, enforce it and make it work. It makes healthy sense for smoking to be banned in public places.
Jim Alger, Latina, Italy
Smoking should certainly be banned in all pubs, bars, night clubs and restaurants. Why should I as a non smoker have to breathe inconsiderate peoples smoke fumes? Why should my clothes stink to high heaven just because I've popped to the pub for a lunch time drink? Surely I have the right to breathe clean air wherever I go? If people want to smoke go outside and kill yourself, don't pollute my lungs!
Miss C Lambert, Herts
Ban smoking in public ASAP. I'm fed up with my children and I having to breathe in second hand smoke when we go on days out.
Rob, Burton Joyce, Notts
If a person next to you drinks alcohol, he gets drunk, you don't. If a person next to you smokes, you smoke as well passively. There's no escaping the pollution of smoking. Forcing others to smoke is not a "human right" as FOREST have stated. I hope the bans get ever more wide ranging because smoking is an anti-social danger. In the meantime, pubs where food is not served, should be forced to install powerful air venting systems to extract as much smoke as possible.
Helen Davies, Bristol, UK
What right do smokers have to inflict their sick, dangerous and revolting habit on the rest of us? If tobacco had been discovered five years ago rather than five hundred it would be a class A drug. They can smoke at home and let them be happy with that.
Ben Taylor, Bristol, UK