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Last Updated: Monday, 5 September 2005, 14:25 GMT 15:25 UK
Smoke ban proposal 'half-hearted'
Government anti-smoking TV advert
The new adverts begin as the smoke ban consultation ends
The government would be guilty of double standards if it did not enforce a full smoking ban in public places in England, say doctors' leaders.

As consultation on a partial ban ends, ministers are launching a campaign warning of second-hand smoke dangers.

But the British Medical Assocation said the key was to drop plans to exempt food-free pubs from a smoking ban.

Health officials said the new anti-smoking adverts worked alongside other government actions.

The Royal College of Nursing has already joined calls for a tougher smoking ban than the one proposed, which would exempt private members' clubs and pubs not serving food.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said the government's 5m television and radio advertising campaign was designed to show people that they were often most at risk of the dangers of smoking in the places they felt safest.

"It is clear that both smokers and non-smokers don't appreciate the full dangers of second-hand smoke," she said.

Long-term damage

The TV adverts - to coincide with the end of the public consultation period on the proposed ban - show a group of family and friends relaxing at home watching TV where one person is smoking.

If the government is aware of the hazards, how can it defend only a partial ban on smoking in public places?
Dr Vivienne Nathanson

As the advert progresses the smoke moves around the group, snaking around their necks and revealing the long-term damage it can cause.

The government has also released the findings of a survey of more than 1,000 adults, which found 60% of smokers do not ask for permission to smoke, while a fifth of non-smokers do not feel comfortable asking someone not to light-up near them.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the BMA, said: "If the government is aware of the hazards, how can it defend only a partial ban on smoking in public places?"

The advert comes as research suggests many pubs will stop serving food to escape the ban.

The survey, by Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health, indicates that the number of exempt pubs could rise to 40% from 29% which would currently qualify.

In some of the most deprived areas it could be as high as 50%, the survey warns.

'Warning fatigue'

Research published in the British Medical Journal has shown that second-hand smoke kills 11,000 people in the UK each year - the equivalent of about 30 a day.

There is no hard evidence that second-hand smoke kills
Simon Clark

But Simon Clark, director of smokers' lobby group Forest said smokers were developing "warning fatigue".

"I think people switch off to these campaigns, there is just too much anti-smoking sentiment out there.

"There is no hard evidence that second-hand smoke kills."

Final shots

The government has said it has received thousands of responses to its proposals since launching its consultation in June.

BBC health correspondent Jane Dreaper says that as the consultation period ends, lobby groups on both sides of the smoking argument are firing their final shots in what has become a fierce public relations battle.

How about leaving it up to the management of the establishment to decide?
Steve D, London, UK

Members of Cancer Research UK will present a petition at Downing Street later, while the smokers' lobby group Forest has placed advertisements in national newspapers.

The Royal College of Nursing, along with more than 5,000 nurses and supporters, has written to the Department of Health demanding a full ban.

Under the plans all enclosed public places and workplaces would be smoke free, unless specifically exempted, by 2008.

This would cover hospitals, schools, rail stations, shops, restaurants plus pubs where food is prepared and served.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, spokesperson for the British Heart Foundation, said: "The government still has the chance to choose the only sensible and workable solution: a full smoking ban in all enclosed public places, including all pubs."

A singer explains the effect of second-hand smoke in bars

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At-a-glance: Smoke ban
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