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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 23:53 GMT 00:53 UK
Most smokers 'not flouting ban'
Smoky bar
Smoky pubs are a thing of the past
The vast majority of smokers in England have been respecting the ban on lighting up in enclosed public places introduced in July, a survey suggests.

Some 97% of 2,500 adults polled for groups including Asthma UK said they were either not smoking where it is banned or were giving up completely.

And 75% said the ban had been good for their health.

The survey also found that smokers with asthma were attempting to quit faster than the general population.

It's really encouraging to see almost all smokers respecting the law
Martin Dockrell, Action on Smoking and Health

The survey was carried out for Action on Smoking and Health (Ash), Asthma UK and the British Thoracic Society and questioned 1,025 adults in England with asthma as well 1,532 adults among the general population.

More than half of those with asthma said they had been able to go out to pubs more since the smoking ban came in and 43% said they were now less worried about having an asthma attack in enclosed public places.

Smokers with asthma also seem to be quitting faster than the rest of the population, with 17% attempting to quit since the ban, compared with 12% of smokers without asthma, the survey suggested.

However, the data does not show how many of these have managed to quit for good.

Enforcement efforts

The survey results support government inspections which report that most people are not flouting the ban.

Among pub-goers, 86% say they have not seen anyone smoke in a bar since the law came into force.

Martin Dockrell, from Ash, said more people had quit in the run up to the ban, as had been seen in other countries, than since it came in.

But overall the average number of smokers quitting was up.

"It's really encouraging to see almost all smokers respecting the law," he said.

"However, some areas may be having particular difficulties and their enforcement officers will have to re-double their efforts."

'Kicking the habit'

Professor John Macfarlane, chairman of the British Thoracic Society, said: "This research shows how effective the smoking ban is in helping to reduce the number of smokers and the number of people exposed to second-hand smoke."

Neil Churchill, chief executive of Asthma UK, said people with asthma were reaping the benefits of the ban.

"More than a third say they are a great deal less exposed to second-hand smoke as they go about their day-to-day lives.

"It's also encouraging to hear that the three-quarters of a million smokers with asthma are kicking the habit faster than the rest of the population, showing that they are taking their health seriously and doing something about it."

The ban on smoking in England, introduced on 1 July, brought it into line with the rest of the UK.

Simon Clark, director of Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), said a high compliance rate is no indication that the smoking ban is popular, just that the vast majority of people are law-abiding.

"There remains a great deal of resentment about the scale and extent of the ban and this will only get worse as winter approaches and people are forced to stand outside in the wind and rain."

Public support for smoking ban
21 Jun 07 |  Health

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