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Last Updated: Sunday, 19 June, 2005, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Government denies smoking ban aim
Smoker
Reports of a blanket ban have been denied by the Department of Health
Reports that a blanket ban on smoking in public places is being planned have been denied by the government.

The Department of Health said measures contained in a consultation document out on Monday would go no further than proposals in last year's White Paper.

That laid out plans to ban smoking in all workplaces, restaurants and the 90% of pubs which prepare and serve food.

Newspaper reports on Sunday had suggested a ban could extend to all public places.

November's White Paper suggested smoking would still be allowed in pubs which did not serve food and in private clubs - subject to the agreement of members.

Tougher line?

But reports in the Sunday Times suggested Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt would pursue a tougher line than her predecessor John Reid.

The Sunday Times said that she would be prepared to change government policy if there was clear evidence that a ban would have the support of business and public opinion.

And it quoted a senior health department official as saying Ms Hewitt "thinks differently to Reid on the issue" and that the consultation would "open the door for a total ban".

Health experts, including Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, have long campaigned for a total ban, saying that it would protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

No change

However, the Department of Health has said nothing has changed.

On Monday, the government will launch a consultation on its Health Improvement Bill.

A spokeswoman said: "The consultation being published...by the Department of Health will go no further than the proposals contained in the Public Health White Paper set out last year.

"It will not contain proposals for a blanket ban."

But Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy - himself a smoker - said a ban was inevitable.

'Inevitable'

"I do think that the way the world is moving quite frankly, in terms of people's awareness, perception, concern about health and all the rest of it - as well as the liberties of those who do not smoke, I think it is inevitable frankly that is the way it is going to go. And it is something I personally would support."

Speaking on the BBC's News 24 Sunday he added: "I'm still a sinner. I have cut down drastically, but I haven't kicked it completely."

Meanwhile, the Scottish Executive's plan to ban public smoking has been welcomed by the World Health Organization, which called it an "historic opportunity to move from a self-destructive past".

The executive plans to ban smoking in almost all enclosed public premises, including pubs, by March 2006 through the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill, currently being considered by parliament.




SEE ALSO:
Public in two minds over health
06 Sep 04 |  Health


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