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Monday, 11 November, 2002, 08:29 GMT
Should smoking be banned in public places?
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?
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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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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?
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.
Headlines 2040: "Smoking to be banned in OUTER SPACE."
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.
I resent having MY health damaged in the name of smokers' "rights". What about my rights?
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?
Andrew Marks, UK
Not only should smoking be banned in public places, but in the homes where children are growing!
As long as they also ban cars, lorries and buses as their fumes make me choke more.
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.
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