BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Talking Point  
News Front Page
Middle East
South Asia
Talking Point
Country Profiles
In Depth
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
Monday, 11 November, 2002, 08:29 GMT
Should smoking be banned in public places?
Talking Point: Smoking
Doctors are calling for laws to ban smoking in public places to be introduced "as soon as possible".

A report from the British Medical Association warns 1,000 people are dying every year as a result of passive smoking.

It also calls for a new tax on all tobacco company profits, which it wants to be ploughed in to public awareness campaigns on the health risks of passive smoking.

The BMA says the money could also be put towards the development of smoke-free public places.

Passive smoking has been linked to lung cancer, heart and circulation problems in adults.

In children it is linked to meningitis, cot death and chest infections.

Should there be a complete ban on smoking in public places? Or do you think smokers are being discriminated against?

This Talking Point was suggested by Sinead, UK:

Should smoking in public places be banned?

If you have any suggestions for Talking Points,

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

I do agree that smoking should be banned in public places such as shopping centres and offices, but pubs and clubs should be left alone. Also, I find that, although the majority of smokers try to be considerate, they are victimised. I may be a smoker, but I have no intention of smoking in your home, car, halfway through your meal, etc. Just because I have this bad habit, does not mean my manners are as filthy!

Smokers have paid hefty rates of tax for their addiction

John G, London, UK
As someone who gave up in May, I say ban smoking in enclosed public spaces. However, I disagree when that ban extends to the street or anywhere outdoors. The ban becomes a mockery considering the extent of car fumes and begins to look like persecution of the smoker. Also if further restrictions on smokers are to be made, then treatment for nicotine addiction should be available on the NHS. It is unfair that this is not so, considering smokers have paid hefty rates of tax for their addiction.
John G, London, UK

In reply to the smokers whinging here - 80% of people have suffered your fumes in public for too long. It is a pleasure to eat out in Washington State or California where the air is clean. However Germany is appalling where smokers light up just as food is delivered to another table! It was so nice when in the 80's the office I worked in became non-smoking - smokers had to suffer in the rain outside!
Andrew, UK

Smokers can keep smoking as far as I'm concerned. After all, they pay more in tax than non-smokers (and, yes, the figures do add up after health costs are taken into account) and invariably die earlier and quicker thereby reducing their respective burden on pensions and support. God bless the smokers - all the po-faced liberals need to get a reality check - fast.
Chris, UK

When I went to Europe I was shocked to see all the places you were allowed to smoke in. As a smoker, it was like I was in some kind of smoker heaven. That would never fly over here. Most people look at smokers as if they are devil's spawn. And the government taxes cigarettes to the point of creating a black market. Its ridiculous.
Braxton Bragg, US

If you don't smoke it is very easy to condemn smokers

Richard Keenan, UK
I think it is about time the tobacco companies started to pay for nicotine patches for people who are unfortunately addicted to their vile products. If you don't smoke it is very easy to condemn smokers but most smokers wish they had never started. Don't just blame the individual smokers, blame the people who are getting rich off other peoples misery
Richard Keenan, UK

The dangers of smoking are now so well-known, nobody should have to be exposed to the risks unless they do so voluntarily. Ban smoking in all public places and designate special restaurants where people can go who like to smoke. 'Smoking areas' in restaurants make as much sense as 'peeing areas' in swimming pools!

I have noted that, in my experience of smokers, they tend to be selfish and not consider others. I am allergic to cigarette smoke, which makes it difficult to visit almost ANY public place. Even members of my own family smoke and would not quit when my allergy was diagnosed. I had no other option but to leave home at the earliest opportunity. My nephew has a serious health issue and still members of my family smoke around him. If you smoke you are a drug addict. it is as simple as that. If you don't believe me - try to quit!
Andrew, UK

Many restaurant owners in the US found that after completely banning smoking in their establishments many more customers arrived because those that had stayed away because of poor smoking controls returned. Then there's the issue of enforcement - how will these laws be enforced when the current ban on smoking on the London underground is never enforced? South African authorities managed to enforce their anti-smoking laws by fining establishments rather than individuals that didn't comply with the law. If a third world country like South Africa can get this right (with fewer police!) surely a first world country like the UK can also.
Oliver, UK

I will openly defy any public smoking ban

Dan, England
I will openly defy any public smoking ban as a matter of principle. In fact, out of sheer bloody-minded defiance I will actually smoke more in public than I do now. And from the conversation I had with some friends last night, I am not alone. This is taking the nanny state to new extremes, and I am growing rapidly tired of being told the things I enjoy are bad for me and so I shouldn't do them. It's my choice and nobody else's. Or are we openly admitting that the UK is not a free country any more?
Dan, England

Dan, England: If you decide to ignore the health warnings, that's entirely up to you. The problem is that your habit is also bad for other people. It is still a free country and the vast majority of people want to see smoking banned in public places, so I'm afraid it's not going to be your choice for very much longer. I have no doubt that some smokers will defy the ban at first. However, hopefully the fines will be heavy in order to pay for the burden smokers place on the health service.
George, UK

Smoking should be banned in some public places - there is nothing worse than sitting down to a nice restaurant meal and the person at the table beside you puffing smoke in you face whilst your eating. It should also be banned on the workplace. But I think it's okay in pubs, and it was fine when there was one carriage of a train or upstairs on a bus.
Janie, Scotland

Smokers have the right to smoke, but with it comes the responsibility not to inflict their smoke on the majority who choose not to. Sadly, few are this considerate - otherwise a ban would be unnecessary. There's no reason to ban smoking in public places provided that there is a way of ensuring that non-smokers don't have to breathe the smoke. Where this is absent, and particularly where there might be children - for example on railway platforms - a ban is reasonable.
Guy Chapman, UK

Smoking has been banned in public places here for over 12 months. It is a pleasure to visit a bar or pub. Smokers are allowed in their own areas, and it has not been a problem. The only expense is on the service provider - who has to separate us and them.
Christopher Bell, South Africa

The ban on smoking in most workplaces has caused more people to give up than any awareness campaign

I'm a smoker but I have to agree with this idea. Smoking is undeniably anti-social and banning it in communal places is entirely fair. To my own mind the ban on smoking in most workplaces has caused more people to give up than any awareness campaign has ever managed to. But, if the government is serious about ridding this pestilence it has to show that it doesn't consider the revenue it receives from tobacco taxes worth protecting.

When I gave up smoking I was determined not to be self righteous about it, but to show tolerance towards those who 'choose' to be addicted to cigarettes. Regrettably, I have found that I physically react so badly to the smoke; sore throat for 24hrs, eyes watering and coughing for instance, that I have had to re-evaluate whether the current level of tolerance towards smoking is perhaps too accommodating. I have had to leave clubs & bars because of it. I think that this is a Health and Safety issue, owners of licensed venues should ensure that sufficient air filtration systems be installed if they wish to permit smoking on their premises.
Alex G, UK

Smoking should be banned. This has been done on the Continent for at least a decade and it all ended up better for everyone. Smoking is a private choice by definition so why not keep it personal, at home or outside in open air? Public places shouldn't have to put up with this and you certainly do not want your kids to choke on smoke from other people. Also, in that respect, transport should be sorted better, with possibly a ban on cars that are older than 10 years. After all, air pollution is everyone's business.
Sonia, UK

As a non-smoker, when cigarette smoke wafts in my face (usually in a pub) my eyes water and I start choking, coughing and gasping for air as if I'm going to die. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that smoking is unnatural for human beings and proven fatal to your health.
Anon, England

I'll give up my cigars when people start to drive small fuel efficient cars

Chris, UK
I'll give up my cigars when people start to drive small fuel efficient cars or motorcycles. Stop driving their children 400 meters to school every day and stop buying pointless large 4x4's to go shopping in. They cause far more damage to long term health than outdoor passive smoking.
Chris, UK

I disagree. It's not the smokers, It's the bars. Make better ventilation if needed or make areas within the bars for smoking! There are ways to suit. Or we will end up smoking on the streets outside pubs and bars. And then you will see rubbish.
Henry Webb, UK

There is really nothing worse than being in a restaurant enjoying a nice meal and then having it spoiled by someone else's second hand cigarette smoke. How would these people feel if their meal was spoiled by equivalent anti social behaviour - would they enjoy it if I sneezed or coughed over them ? Yes it is a free country, but that is not a charter for smokers to ruin other people's lives.
Michael Perman, UK

Interesting to see all the comments about defending rights. No one is taking away the right to smoke, but you should not have the right to put someone else's health at risk. The very replies we see here an indication of the extremely selfish attitude of a lot of smokers. Ban it!
Craig Donaldson, UK

There is no justification for permitting an act that causes injury to innocent parties

Alistair, UK
I like your quote "Risk is the essence of enjoying a rich and rewarding life" Tell that to the Health and Safety Executive, and enjoy your day in court. The hard fact is, and the opinions expressed here prove it, there is no justification for permitting an act that causes injury to innocent parties, period. Smokers can try and deflect the debate or draw irrelevant analogies all day long, the fact is - you are killing innocent people, have some consideration.
Alistair, UK

I have asthma and don't like passive smoking - but even more, I dislike living in a society obsessed with laws, rules, bans, and conformity to whatever victimisation the government of the day decides is going to be popular this week. Leave people alone.
Alex Swanson, UK

Yes it should. I have no sympathy whatsoever if a smoker suffers from a smoking related illness, but as a non-smoker I should not have to stand in a bus shelter when its pouring rain and have someone start puffing smoke in my face! Also I believe people who suffer from smoking related diseases should be made to pay for their medical treatment privately and not burden the NHS. After all if they can afford to smoke they can afford to pay for private medical insurance.

If we are living in the free society that so many smokers talk about, then why am I not free to go into a pub for the evening with out coming out stinking of smoke? Why do smokers assume that their rights are more important than non smokers? At least as a drinker, my "habit" is not having a direct effect on the person sitting near me. I'm only affecting my own health and no one else's.
Cath, England

Banning smoking inside public buildings is fine, as it has been done here in the US and has been accepted quite readily. It is when they start enforcing the ban in privately owned businesses such as restaurants and pubs that they have taken it too far. This should be left up to the proprietor of the business to decide. "The People's Republic of California" think differently on this.
Jody, USA

Risk is the essence of a rich and rewarding life

Phillip Holley, UK
Risk is the essence of enjoying a rich and rewarding life. The current trend to rid society of all forms of risk from safe sex and smoking through to cycle helmets will take every ounce of fun from the world. I'd rather die at 50 with a smile on my face that at 90 having avoided all the risks life poses. And no... I don't smoke now... but I have. Get out and enjoy the life you have rather than worrying about how to preserve yourself longer.
Phillip Holley, UK

Yes, it should be banned. Why should I have to possibly suffer from lung cancer or other nasty illnesses because of someone else? Smokers also contribute to the masses of litter on our streets. Have you ever seen a smoker go to the nearest bin and place their dog ends into it? Even the no smoking areas in pubs etc are a waste of time as they are located next to the smoking areas.
Sarah, UK

If smoking was banned in public places... who would people blame for all of the nation's ill health then? They've banned smoking in public places in many parts of the US and Canada, but I don't see them all living to be 110 years old, do you?
Simon Moore, UK

Smokers should be restricted to their own homes

Derek Alyson, London
I've always thought it was an absurdity being asked at a restaurant if I wanted to be seated non-smoking or smoking, in a confined space. Smokers should be restricted to open air or the privacy of their own homes.
Derek Alyson, London

I am far more worried about the effects of pollution from buses, planes, factories etc than cigarettes. I think it's time the spotlight was turned on big business... or is the spotlight always on smokers to keep attention away from the big polluters?
Mandy, UK

Yet I'll bet the people who complain about smoking are quite happy to irradiate their own heads constantly with a mobile phone. How about banning THESE in public places?
Gary, UK

What's needed is not a ban but common sense from both sides. A ban stops someone smoking on a empty street. Someone who smokes in rooms at home where their children go must ask themselves whether they are fit to be parents.
Jonathan Kelk, UK

Headlines 2040: "Smoking to be banned in OUTER SPACE."
Bob, UK

I'm asthmatic and smoke brings on coughing fits

Deeanne, UK
I don't care if people smoke in public places as long as I can't smell it. I'm asthmatic and find smoke brings on coughing fits. While standing on an almost deserted railway platform in London the other day, a woman stood about three feet upwind of me and lit up a cigarette, careless of the fact that her smoke was blowing into my face. I responded by coughing towards her face - and she objected most strongly!
Deeanne, UK

Who are we... Singapore? This is a free country is it not? People cannot be treated as children. We complain about a nanny state and then cry for no smoking in public.
Mel, London

I resent having MY health damaged in the name of smokers' "rights". What about my rights?
Graham, Scotland

It seems that yet again smokers are an easy target to demonise. I agree that passive smoking carries a health risk, but how about targeting drivers instead? The emissions from their vehicles are doing my lungs far more damage on a daily basis, than my few cigarettes are doing to theirs. It's all about perspective, isn't it?
Kaye, UK

Let them smoke in their own homes

Andrew Marks, UK
I have spent a lot of time in the US where in many states it is illegal to smoke in train and bus stations etc. It makes waiting for transport so much more enjoyable and makes the place look clean and smart with no cigarette butts on the floor. If people want to smoke that is their own problem. I don't like it being inflicted on me when I have no choice. Let them smoke in their own homes, if they can't last half an hour without a cigarette they need serious help!
Andrew Marks, UK

Not only should smoking be banned in public places, but in the homes where children are growing!
Eileen, UK

As long as they also ban cars, lorries and buses as their fumes make me choke more.
Natalie, UK

I agree totally that smoking should be banned in public places. It has been done in other countries very successfully and what a pleasure it is to go out and not be choked by these foul fumes. What is especially bad is when people get off trains and light up in a relatively enclosed space.
Dallas Taylor, UK

Should smoking be banned in public places?



5468 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

06 Nov 02 | Health
22 Oct 02 | Health
05 Oct 02 | Health
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Talking Point stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Talking Point stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |