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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November 2004, 09:04 GMT
Q&A: Smoking ban
Scotland wants to impose a complete ban
The government is expected to ban smoking in most enclosed public areas.

The plans are due to be outlined in the Public Health White Paper, due to be published later on Tuesday.

What will the ban mean?

The government is set to ban smoking in every cafe, restaurant and most pubs in England within a few years

Only private clubs, where members voted to allow smoking, and pubs which do not serve prepared food would be exempt.

The proposals could mean that up to 90% of bars could be smoke-free within a few years.

However, smoking will still be allowed in pubs which limit their food sales to snacks such as crisps, rather than prepared meals.

Smoking would also be banned in offices and factories.

What happens in other parts of the UK?

Last week, Scottish Executive put forward a blanket ban on smoking in enclosed public places last week.

A survey in Wales has found that three-quarters of those questioned favoured some form of restriction in smoking in public.

Health campaigners have also called for a ban in Northern Ireland.

Outside the UK, the Republic of Ireland banned smoking in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces in March this year. Most smokers are abiding by the ban, and there has not been the fall in pub trade that was feared.

Other countries, including Turkey and Norway, have implemented complete bans. Most US states have also introduced, or are considering, some sort of restrictions.

How have the plans been received?

The British Medical Association has said it is disappointed the government looks unlikely to go for a total ban.

But the campaign group Action on Smoking and Health said it feared the proposals would be unworkable.

And Harry Burns , director of public health in Glasgow told, the BBC he feared the proposals could widen the health divide between the "gastropub" middle classes and the less well off, who may frequent working-mens clubs, which are less likely to serve food.

Dr Burns said: "It would be illogical and harmful to enact policies that would support people in the upper social classes to stop smoking. but would ignore people in the lower social classes."

Smokers' rights group Forest said most people would be happy with more no-smoking areas and better ventilation.

But Ed Gershon, of the pub chain JD Wetherspoon, said the smoking ban would be good for business and most people did not want to be around smoky areas.

What is passive smoking?

It simply means breathing in other people's tobacco smoke.

This is made up of "sidestream" smoke from the burning tip of the cigarette, and "mainstream" smoke that has been inhaled and then exhaled by the smoker.

Sidestream smoke accounts for nearly 85% of the smoke in a room.

What's in the smoke?

Tobacco smoke contains over 4,000 chemicals in the form of particles and gases including tar, nicotine, benzene, carbon monoxide, ammonia and formaldehyde.

It has been estimated that tobacco smoke contains as many as 60 substances which cause - or are suspected of causing - cancer.

Many irritate the tissues of the respiratory system.

What effect does it have on the passive smoker?

Breathing in other people's smoke can cause eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea. Just 30 minutes exposure can be enough to reduce blood flow through the heart.

There is also evidence to show that people with asthma can experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed.

Whether or not passive smoking can trigger new cases of asthma is a hotly debated issue.

In the longer term, non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoking in the home, have a 25% increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer.

There is also some evidence to suggest that passive smoking may affect children's mental development.

However, it is true that the health risks of breathing in other people's tobacco smoke are much smaller than those posed by actually smoking.

And the pro-smoking lobby, including the campaigning group Forest argue that the case against passive smoking has never been properly proved.

How widespread is passive smoking?

Of course, anybody who regularly frequents pubs or bars is inevitably going to breathe in a significant amount of tobacco smoke.

However, a survey by the anti-smoking charity ASH in 1999 found that about 3million people in the UK are exposed to passive smoke at work.

And it is also estimated that almost half of all children in the UK are exposed to tobacco smoke at home.

One study found that in households where both parents smoke, young children have a 72% increased risk of respiratory illnesses.

Research also shows that children whose parents smoke in the home are more likely to be admitted to hospital for bronchitis and pneumonia in the first year of life.

More than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital every year because of the effects of passive smoking.

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