Norway is to become one of the first countries in the world to bring in an outright ban on smoking in restaurants, bars and cafes.
There are two main reasons for the ban. The first is to protect staff who work in these establishments from the harmful effects of passive smoking.
The second is to "de-normalise" smoking as a social pastime.
An advertising campaign to prepare the public in Norway for the ban has been launched, but British politicians are coming under increasing pressure to consider a similar ban here.
What do you think? Should smoking be banned in all public places?
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
I think Norway have got it right. West coast Canada have also banned it in public places and it makes such a difference! Every time I have been out somewhere smoky I suffer the next day with a bad throat and irritable eyes, is this really fair considering that I have chosen not to smoke? Will the government ever have the guts to ban it though? Let us hope so for the sake of all the non-smokers and children out there inhaling others' smoke.
How can anyone say people should not smoke out in the street, I can understand enclosed areas, but if you want to get picky about smoke and pollution outside, stop driving cars and stop using electricity etc. Because you are totally contradicting yourselves.
Thank god at last, at least one government on this planet has realised that non-smokers don't pleasurably indulge in inhaling endless quantities of dirty fumes from smokers. Time for smokers to wake up to reality. Hopefully Canada follows.
Walter Onubogu, Canada
I back, 100%, a ban on smoking in public places in England. A meal can be totally ruined by a smoker at a nearby table and pubs, wine-bars etc are no-go areas if you are sensitive to smoke. For staff it is a hazard.
Maggie Dyer, England
Shouldn't the 'staff who work in these (smoky) establishments' simply take responsibility for their own health and find a job where the air quality of the workplace is to their liking? It's not like smoking in bars is a new craze; I doubt very much that there are any 'staff' who weren't fully aware of the atmosphere in bars before they signed their employment contract.
Smoking should be completely banned altogether and those who smoke should be fined first and imprisoned if they don't stop.
New York, USA
Smoking should be banned in all public places as soon as possible. Smokers make a big thing of the tax that they pay on tobacco products but they forget about how much it costs the NHS to treat people with smoking related diseases.
Smoking should be banned, for the simple fact that it is negative for the humans and the environment. But it is important to remark that people will keep smoking so long as cigarettes are manufactured, this means that not just banning people from smoking in public places will do the trick.
Smoking should be banned in all public areas including offices. I do not see any reason why smokers should be given priority by creating smoking only areas. It is a dirty habit that they have adapted so if anything they should accommodate with the non smoking environment.
Mrs Krishanjit Bajwa, England
I think they better ban cars as well, as a pedestrian walking on the pavement I don't want to breathe it toxic car fumes, I've got quite a few more silly draconian idea's to go with this one as well if you want to live in that kind of society!
Simon Rerrie, Birmingham, UK
Passive smoking is harmful so should be banned. The problem is that most smokers do not have a sense of smell so they do not realise how bad the smell is. They are also blind as they can not see the cigarette butts on the floor. I travel on the train and am fed up with having to stand in the rain at the station to avoid breathing other people's smoke.
I am a smoker and I am just about fed up to the back teeth with people banning this and banning that, and of course treating me like a leper; I say ban all these do gooders from ever opening their mouths again, what next once they have banned smoking? Ban Christianity, or religion in general - I mean it is bad for your health to be religious as it accounts for the majority of terrorism around the world.
Come on get a life and let us live ours, I don't mind if you segregate me but at least give me my human rights and right to choose. I suppose that if smoking is banned in public places then we can expect the corrupt governments to stop charging so much tax on tobacco as they wouldn't want to be seen to be profiting from what would be almost an illegal substance. Do gooders they make me sick.
Yvonne E Healan, Great Britain
The smoking ban will kill businesses in Norway. The percentage of people here that smoke when they go-out to bars and restaurants is very high, this is bound to have a knock on effect. The number of small coffee bars where lots of people go to drink coffee, smoke, meet others will be forced out of business. In a country whose capital Oslo can be seriously hit by smog due to the amount of traffic, where drug users openly do their thing right outside the main railway station and Police Station, I think there is a lot more serious issues to be addressed before this. Can politicians not see sense and simply stick with the segregated areas??
Ban it! Don't the facts say it all? They are a health risk; I have witnessed a close friend die because of them. If you choose to smoke in your own space/air - fine, but please don't kill the non-smokers who choose not to kill themselves along the way!
If restaurants and pubs could encourage more business by having a no smoking policy then wouldn't they already be doing so?
A smoking Ban would be a great boost to a healthier Britain and would also encourage more families with younger children into restaurants.
People are too inconsiderate these days. I go out, don't, smoke, but when I get home I'm smelly with cigarette smoke. A ban is the way to go. However there should be places where smokers can go to enjoy a puff and damage their own lungs and clothes
I am a smoker but I think to ban smoking is a good thing, but some places should be left for us to smoke. I enjoy a smoke after a meal so I hope some places will be allowed to let us enjoy our smokes
Tabacco is still a legal product. Here in the U.S. California now has a smokeless beach. As a smoker I wonder what happened to the smokers area and the non smokers area. That would seem to please both smokers and non smokers alike. However, it appears to be a control issue with the non smokers telling smokers what they can and can not do. Until tobacco is made illegal bars and pubs would do well to appease both as it is not that hard to setup a non smokers area - although that will be the empty part of the pub. Non smokers are simply putting their agenda on those who are able to purchase tabacco. What's next non alcoholic bars and pubs?
Smoking may be a proven killer, but so is alcohol, and I don't see any calls to ban that. In any case a Pub is not a healthy place to be. We're all grown-ups now - if you don't like a smoky atmosphere then don't go there. It's called freedom of choice.
Charles Dean, you are missing the point. Smoking kills and is not discriminating. Therefore non-smokers have a right to complain about this risk to their health. Alcohol doesn't hold the same risks to the general public.
My son-in-law was employed in a night club, he was refused life insurance because his medical tests indicated he was a smoker - he is not. There is no 'smoke free area' for employees of these bars and clubs. Norway has done the right thing. I have heard all the pro-smoking arguments, none of them hold water.
Ken Mundell, Canada
It is awful to have developed countries deciding tobacco is unhealthy, but continuing to sell this lethal product in the Third World
Ban it! At least for the sake of the staff who are forced to inhale it while doing their jobs!
Graeme, Midlands, UK
I am a social smoker, in that I will smoke with a drink in a pub with like minded friends. I agree that there should be smoke free environments that both smokers and non-smokers can enjoy, but why can there not be places for smokers too? It is hypocritical in the extreme to take huge amounts of money from smokers in the form of tax and then penalise them for actually smoking. Some governments seem to want to have their cake and eat it, at the expense of a large section of our society.
I smoke but try not to smoke around people who don't. Unfortunately this cannot always be done so I agree consideration must be giving to the non smokers, but not at the expense of smokers' rights. There has to be a middle ground.
As for the health reasons, everyone will admit that smoking increases health problems. However, lock two people in a room, a smoker and a non smoker, for 12 hours and both will come out alive. Do the same but put a running car in there and no-one comes out alive. Smoking is harmful but not immediately!
David J, UK
Car fumes and industrial pollution are a different issue to smoking - banning cigarettes is the first step to furthering a clean-up of the environment.
I'm all for it - it's about time selfish smokers had their come-uppance.
What a lot of self righteous, conceited nonsense! People ought to be allowed to smoke in public - the effects of smoke compared with exhaust fumes is negligible.
Bring it on! It will be good for business as people like myself will be able to enjoy going out again. And it will create a supportive environment for all the smokers, most of whom are trying to give up the habit.
It's so simple - we have proven smoking kills therefore it should be banned in public places.
Smoking (including passive smoking) can kill; so I find it is quite incredible that we are debating this. Such a ban should be supported by us all.
At long last we won't be getting slowly killed by people who choose to kill themselves with a lethal product in public spaces.
I'd like to see more effort spent on providing smoke-free areas rather than an outright ban on smoking. I would dearly love to be able to go out to the pub of an evening, have a few drinks and then get home without having to shower twice just to get the smoke out of my hair.
It still amazes me to observe smokers opening a packet of cigarettes. A large label saying, "SMOKING KILL" has no effect whatsoever. Smokers do have a right to kill themselves. But they don't have a right to pollute the air that I breathe and injure my health. If smokers want to smoke in their own homes or private dwellings then that is fine. I do not wish to smell the disgusting stench of cigarettes when I breathe in a lungful of air. Smoking is not a necessity, it is a drug addiction. Ban it in all public places.
While we're at it, can we ban carol singers, who cause huge crowds of people to stand there and block high streets during the busiest season of the year? Most of the time they're tuneless (noise pollution) ugly (visual pollution) and the crowds of people drop their rubbish and walk off. At least smoking gives money to the treasury.
Reading all that jazz against smoking, I wonder: Are car fumes any better? Why there is no campaign against that health hazard too? After all, urban air pollution is not caused by smokers, or is it?
I don't smoke, but I don't push my will on others who do. One thing I would like to know is, if everyone stops smoking, the tobacco company will be out of business...NO TAX THERE. The factory workers, unemployed NO TAX THERE, no body buying cigarettes HUGE TAX LOSS THERE. so where does all that loss in tax get made up. Oh not to mention the unemployment.
Kevin Mc Vann, USA
I agree that 'it is the individual's right to smoke'... but not in public, where other people also have the right to say no to the harmful effects of passive smoking!
Absolutely agree! No better reason than that smoking is harmful to the health and is disturbing those who don't smoke.
Since public opinion has less and less to do with the realities of government, my opinion on the issue really doesn't count. However, I do find it ludicrous (albeit logical) to be on a tear against smoking and second-hand smoke, while simultaneously ignoring pollutions such as auto exhaust.
Norway is dead right! Why should non-smokers have to inhale other people's smoke?
There's no danger from passive smoking that decent ventilation won't solve. Legislate for that, instead of introducing new laws of intolerance. Some people just aren't happy unless they're trying to ban something.
I wish smoking could be banned, full time, but we are creating a cult of smokers who get together just to smoke
N C Kingston-Davies, UK
This world is mad! Most of us over the age of 25 have grown up around smokers and although it can be unpleasant to work in it's still the individual's right to smoke if he/she wishes to!
Shaun Rooney, England
Go Norway! As a waiter working in a smoking environment I arrive home every night reeking and feeling ill. Why should I inhale second hand smoke for hours ever day? What will the long-term effect be? Perhaps I should move to Norway.
Smoking should be banned in public places and in the presence of children. We would then see a big reduction in the amount of litter in the streets. Why is it that smokers thing it acceptable to through a lit cigarette end on the floor or pavement and then, but not always, step on it to put it out. This behaviour is next to the chewing gum users who pollute our pavements. I would like to see a ban on that too.
David Cockburn, England
Yes ban smoking in public places. Last week I was walking over a footbridge following someone who was smoking - it was most unhealthy to breath in their smoke especially when taking larger breaths of air to get up the slope! I had to run to get in front of them in order to reach fresher air.
As a taxpayer, I have a right not to have my money spent on treatment of illnesses caused by something known for years to be harmful and addictive. The government has a responsibility to promote reasonable public health measures, such as smoking bans. California has experienced a drop in public health spending for tobacco related illnesses since its ban was introduced. Norway is doing to right thing; I hope many other governments follow the lead of Norway and California.
Having been both a smoker and now a non-smoker, I believe that human rights issues must begin with the health of all concerned. Smoking should not be imposed on anyone that does not care to jeopardize their health. The pain and discipline that are required of those of us that quit should not be compromised by those that choose to smoke. And certainly our children have the right to live in a smoke free environment. We would not consider allowing 'drug addicts' to blow 'dust' or 'smoke' in non-using adults' faces nor our children's, yet we somehow see tobacco differently? It's hypocritical!
As a smoker I agree, in principal to banning smoking in public places but only on a voluntary basis. If I can't smoke in a pub or restaurant I can choose not to go there just as non-smokers can decide not to go to places that allow smoking. If any non-smokers start moaning about their rights to smoke-free places to go to, what about my rights to go to a smoky, smelly pub and have a nice ciggy with my pint?
I am not a smoker, my wife and I gave up when we started trying for a baby. However, we are not so selfish to force others to adopt our ways. I think DOM is correct. Choice is the key here. If you don't like smoke, don't go to the pubs who allow smoking. Are restaurants going to be banned from serving meat? No! And yet this is an issue that is equally hard fought. CHOICES!
Norway first? We have such ban in California couple of years already. It's actually not bad at all, even if you smoke from time to time. Real benefit is that it's much, much easier to quit smoking in such environment. After you quit, the new law is your friend when you go out.
Congratulations to Norway. Nil points to UK! I think a similar move here is long overdue, especially for shopping centres, pubs and restaurants. The only problem here is that the politicians seem to be too much in cahoots with the tobacco companies, yet the health of people in Britain is affected in just the same way as it is to those in Norway.
Craig Cockburn, Scotland
People always seem to equate smoking with drinking alcohol but this is short sighted. The main problem is that smoking causes immediate harm to others in the vicinity of the smoker. Drinking does not have the same effect. Yes, ban smoking, why do smokers think this is a bad idea - do they not want to become more healthy/pleasant to be with?
I refuse to eat in a place where smoking is allowed. I think it's disgusting and makes me physically sick. There should be no smoking allowed in all public places. The worst offenders are pubs that cater for meals and allow people to smoke. It's just not acceptable. I don't want to die inhaling other people's smoke. The litter they create is also disgusting. People just throw them on the pavement. It should not be allowed. Where are the laws prohibiting this?
No this is not the correct approach. I smoke cigarettes ONLY because I am addicted to nicotine. The only correct approach is to ban nicotine completely, or to ban cigarettes. My human rights are infringed because governments take the massive taxes paid by smokers every single day accepting that the price to be paid is the death of so many citizens. Hypocrisy is killing people every day for the sake of tax generation. It's time to ban cigarettes completely or at least to classify nicotine as a class A drug which is certainly much more addictive and much more harmful than many of the substances that are so freely available in this world.
Mike S, Hong Kong
To ban smoking in all public places amounts to discrimination.
A smoker has the right to smoke. I have an equal right to breathe clean air. These rights are not compatible. Yes, smoking should definitely be banned in public places. When someone else drinks alcohol, they don't force me to drink some too.
I live in California, which has outlawed smoking in ALL public spaces (including nightclubs and bars) for several years. The tobacco industry said that businesses, particularly restraints, would close in droves. Not only did this not happen, many restaurants experienced an increase in sales, as non-smokers will not go to places filled with smoke if they don't have too. As a former smoker, I believe that nicotine is one of the most addictive substances known to man. The fact that other harmful substances and activities are still allowed is no excuse to allow one group of people to poison another!
Gordon Bonser, USA
My worry is the number of parents you see smoking in the presence of babies and very small children. If you ban smoking in public, will those people spend more time smoking in their own homes and cars in front of their children?
Tim Sowter, England
Definitely! Smokers in public places prove repeatedly that they have no consideration for others. It seems that the only way to stop them inflicting this health risk on everyone around them is an outright ban. The sooner the better.
I don't smoke, so it's not a question that it infringes on my rights. Smoking is a health risk - but so is drinking alcohol, yet no western country is banning that. A more interesting approach would be for establishments to get a smoking permit, where they would have to pay a surcharge to become a smoking establishment. It would be up to the employees to decide if they want to work in a smoke free environment or not, as well as the consumers.
Yes Britain and all other countries should follow the same steps as Norway. We need a healthier environment to live in!
I don't smoke, and never have. I don't object to others smoking, shortening their lives etc. But I do object to the litter they create and the carefree way in which cigarettes are held as smokers walk along. They have no consideration for others. So I'd say ban all smoking except in private enclosed spaces. Cars are only included if windows are kept fully closed.
Ban smoking in public. Period. I have an allergic reaction to nearby smoke that is similar to hay-fever: sneezing, eye irritation, running nose. The sort of things to avoid on a night out with friends. More pubs and restaurants would get my business if smoking was banned.
Garteth Connor, UK
Good idea! Why should non-smokers working in public places have to suffer the health risks and pollution caused by cigarette smoke?
I think smoking should be banned in all public indoor venues UNLESS they have taken significant measures to vent the smoke or have air filters.
Andrew Baker, UK
I think it's a great idea. It's an awful habit and what better way to reduce people smoking and starting than by taking out the "social" side of it. Some will argue it will affect pubs and restaurants, but will people who smoke then never go out? I doubt it.
No, there should not be a blanket ban.
Having quit myself 18 months ago I find a smoky atmosphere very unpleasant and would prefer to dine or drink without it. However, it is not appropriate for the government to poke its nose in this case. If a pub wishes to remain smelling like an ashtray then it should be allowed to. And if the staff do not like their work conditions then they should seek alternative work. If you extend the logic you would be banning hot food from restaurants in case the chef burns himself.
No matter how you put it, depriving bars from the option of being a smoking place is against civil liberties. Banning smoking in my local pub where literally everyone smokes is just funny. I wonder how our society cannot show the same level intolerance to issues that are much more serious than smoking such as excessive alcohol consumption and speed driving.
Scandinavia in general is infinitely more civilised that just about anywhere else in the world and arguably enjoys the highest standard of living anywhere in the world too so it doesn't surprise me one iota that they have taken this step. This isn't a radical step as many will suggest that it is but natural and logical one. We could learn so much from the Norwegian but sadly we're not going to. Its measures like this that often make me think that I should emigrate.