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Last Updated: Monday, 1 December, 2003, 16:21 GMT
Should smoking be banned in public places?
The Royal College of Physicians and 17 other medical colleges have called for a ban on smoking in public places.

In a letter to The Times newspaper, the doctors said there was now compelling evidence about the dangers of passive smoking.

According to the doctors, Britain's system of voluntary self-regulation in bars and restaurants has failed and there is now a need for legislation.

The Irish Republic and Norway are set to ban smoking in public places in the New Year and British cities such as London, Sheffield, Birmingham and Brighton are considering bringing in more restrictions.

Should smoking be banned in public places? How would such a ban affect the hospitality industry? Do you live in a town where smoking has already been banned?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:

Even though we should respect the civil rights and let everyone make their own choice, it would be better to ban it. Especially if you think of how much harm it brings to your body and also affects other people. Smokers do not realise the danger of smoking; So don't be so egoistic!
Ksenia and Sophie, Belgium

It is time the government showed a bit of responsible leadership in relation to this health scandal
Dr John Moore, Scotland
Your indicative poll more than reflects the fact that less than 30% of us smoke actively - addicts are generally oblivious to how unpleasant smoke is to the rest of us or discount the importance of this in their need to serve their addiction - smokers should come and spend a week at my work seeing patients following a shortened and blighted lifetime of devotion to smoking - it is time the government showed a bit of responsible leadership in relation to this health scandal.
Dr John Moore, Scotland

Smoking should be banned in all public places and roads/footpaths. Indoors because of the passive smoking and causing other peoples hair and clothes to smell like an ashtray, and outside because of all the rubbish that they cause.
Alan Saunders, England

Regarding this subject we think that banning smoking simply isn't possible. Yes, it would be better for those who don't smoke (including us) but people may wonder if the smokers will follow the restrictions. Certainly when you are used to smoking in public places it would be a huge adjustment to change that habit and therefore this plan wouldn't succeed because of the smokers' addiction.
Kim S. and Erwin T., Belgium

If they ban smoking in public places, what about every time I walk into town i have to put up with cars and trucks belching out toxic fumes.. are they exempt?
Mike, UK

We go along with the opinion about banning smoking in public places; such as the train, school, work, restaurants, but in pubs and disco's we should allow smokers to exert their 'bad' habit.
Kristof and Nicky, Belgium

Of Course if we are banning people for Abuse in one form or the other those who do not smoke are being abused by those who do because they do not have a choice in some areas but to breath it in. Children get abused at home in that way by their selfish parents who would rather think that they are contributing to the NHS by taxes in cigarettes rather than preventing the problem in the first place. IE
Lynmel, UK

It's fair enough banning smoking in public areas that are difficult to avoid such as shopping centres. However, for all those who are for banning it in pubs and nightclubs, if it is such a hazard to your health, don't go there. Why deprive others from having a good time because of your own insecurities?
Fahmida, UK

Innocent people should not be punished because of the selfish behavior of smokers
Simons Lien, Belgium
I am completely behind the proposal to ban smoking from public places. Innocent people should not be punished because of the selfish behavior of smokers. As a non-smoker who wants to protect his health, it is not possible to have a normal social life, because as a passive smoker you are doomed. We should get rid of the relation between social life and short life.
Simons Lien, Belgium

I suggest if this ban goes ahead at some point, the ban should be extended to all dangerous pollutants with direct links to ill health, this is for the drivers here complaining about smokers (I am a non-driver) BAN cars in inner cities, trust me the smog last summer in London had naff all to do with smokers smoking the streets....

It should be banned where they eat, it is so frustrating and unpleasant when someone sitting near to you sparks up while you are still eating. I always choose to sit in no smoking areas if there is the opportunity. It shouldn't be totally banned in pubs as this is taking away someone's social life on what they like to do.
Laura, England

Go and sit behind a car and breathe in the fumes for twenty minutes and your dead. Now sit next to a smoker for thirty years and you might get a cough. Should we ban cars?
Pete, England

3,450 people died in 2001 from an activity that most of the UK population engages in. More distressing is that 40,560 people were killed or severely injured by that activity. Can you guess what it is? Let me clue you in: it's driving a car. 40,560 people were killed or seriously injured in road traffic accidents in the UK in 2001. Passive smoking kills 1,000 adults a year. Driving kills 3,450 people a year. Which is the bigger threat?
Corine Judkins, UK

Smokers need to remember that it is a privilege and not a right to light up in a public place.
Simon, England

Smokers will be bred out of the population and will disappear through natural selection, thankfully! Intelligent people will only mate with those who don't smell (and yes, you smokers really, really stink even sitting next to you on the train is awful!), and those who possess a healthy body that will be capable of producing and raising healthy children, and will live to see them grow up. I'd never date a smoker not in a million years!
Jessica, UK

Go and live in Germany in the winter and wait for a tram at 6am under a shelter. Then decide whether smoking should be banned in public places. The answer is in the question.
Morgan Webb, UK

More people would find it easier to quit if pubs were smoke free
Hayley Burgess, England
More people would find it easier to quit if pubs were smoke free because many people acknowledge visiting pubs while they are trying to quit as being extremely difficult and often acts as a trigger (along with alcohol) to start again.
Hayley Burgess, England

Pubs and restaurants are not public places - the management can refuse admission to anyone who smokes if they believe such a policy will improve their trade. I have no problems with people smoking in bars, restaurants or other such places, even though I am a non-smoker myself. If you have to ban smoking anywhere, ban smoking-in-the-street and smoking-while-driving.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

YES ban smoking. Why should I get lung cancer because some inconsiderate person "sparks up", all it takes is one person to ruin the air I'm breathing.
David Fitzpatrick, UK

The points which many people make about banning smoking being a start of a slippery slope into reduction of civil rights are ridiculous, the prevention of an activity which causes discomfort to many simply so a few can serve there addiction is desirable, and anyone arguing otherwise using the shield of their right to smoke is ignoring other peoples right not to have to breathe in their smoke, and smell of it afterward.
Jamie Bradshaw, Wales

I'm not normally a fan of our tendency towards litigation, but if employees were able to quickly and easily pursue legal action if they were subjected to passive smoking in the workplace, I doubt whether we'd be having this debate!
John, England

The problem with banning smoking is the government makes too much money from smokers, if they stopped us smoking less people would smoke and therefore the amount of money raised from the tax will fall, thus leading to a shortfall and probably a tax increase for everyone!
Suzy, UK

People should be allowed to smoke as long it is in a well ventilated place
R. Carmichael, England
There should be a compromise over this. People should be allowed to smoke as long it is in a well ventilated place, i.e. outside with facilities provided to dispose of butts so as to keep the area tidy Our uni did try a complete non-smoking policy in one of its bars but "due to demand" has had to settle for a compromise.
R. Carmichael, England

If we ban smoking in public places and start to force smokers outside, will this not increase the amount of litter in the UK? Are councils going to employ a cigarette-butt-picker-upper?
Yvonne, Scotland; UK

I don't want to be told I can't smoke; I don't want to be told how to bring my children up; I don't want to be told what I can eat; I don't want to be told how many hours I am allowed to work; I don't want to be told I can't go hunting. I just want the government to stay out of my life and focus on the economy.

If smokers in general cannot be decent enough to be considerate then smoking in public places should be banned
Stuart Salter, England
I accept that it is the right of an individual to choose whether or not to smoke but I will steadfastly resent the perceived right of a smoker to light up in the presence of a non-smoker in a public environment where their smoking causes harm or discomfort.
Non-smokers aren't causing any harm to smokers whereas the smoker immediately causes discomfort when he/she proves to be inconsiderate. Therefore it stands to reason that if smokers in general cannot be decent enough to be considerate then smoking in public places should be banned.
Stuart Salter, England

I work with people who are trying to quit smoking and a ban would be a real boost to their efforts, give exactly the right message about smoking in society. On a personnel level my clothes won't stink after a night out and I wont have to inhale 4000 chemicals, a lot of them toxic.
Dawn, UK

I am in the construction industry and wonder why the Government do not go for the option of better/faster air conditioning to remove smoke from public places instead of picking on smokers, this could be introduced almost instantly and would be more acceptable to all.
Trevor Lilley, England

I agree with Professor Black and the public should support with a UK wide petition. It's a pleasure to eat in and drink in the US we should do the same. This would also help a lot of young people to give up who are only smoking through social peer pressure.
Helena Rozga, UK

About time too. It will help me save on washing powder (good for the environment) as each time my husband and I go out in the evening the first thing we do when we get home is to strip off and... put all of our clothes into the washing machine as they reek of tobacco smoke!
Lin Farbrace, England

Smoking will be banned in public places soon. It's happened in Dublin and is working well. If someone stood in a room blowing asbestos dust around I am sure all of us, smokers and non-smokers alike would be un-happy. So why then should one tolerate tobacco smoke?
Edward, UK

This is as rational a step as drink driving laws and will protect the unaddicted
Tony, UK
I am an ex smoker (less than a year- after 20+) and I still love the smell! But I do believe a ban in public places is right and I abhor the cynical marketing of cigarettes to children. This is as rational a step as drink driving laws and will protect the unaddicted!
Tony, UK

Yes smoking should be banned in public places. If someone chooses to die of cancer or smoking related diseases why force us (non-smokers) in it. Keep our air smoke free.
Elaine Edwards, Warrington, UK

Yes, smoking should be banned to reflect the majority of the population who are non smokers and make it easier for people wanting to quit (about 70%) to do so. People who work in these environments have a right to do so safely. People with lung disease (I work for British Lung Foundation and run Breathe Easy support groups for people affected by lung diseases) and other medical conditions have a right to be able to socialise knowing they will not suffer for it days afterwards. No smoking pubs and restaurants do work, e.g. Lambton Arms, Gateshead.
Bev Wears, England

The trouble is that society is becoming more sterile, what next a ban on motorcycling or extreme sports, wake up and smell the coffee people, regardless of your feelings on this issue it's a removal of liberty, I for one don't think we have enough choices now.
Si Browne, UK

I'm 100% in favour of this
Dougie Lawson, Basingstoke, UK
Having been a passive smoker before I left home and having been to upstate New York during September, I'm 100% in favour of this. It was amazing going into a pub in Poughkeepsie, NY and not being hit with a blast of stale smoke. I wish they'd done this years ago.
Dougie Lawson, Basingstoke, UK

We need to be careful that our over-zealousness does not gradually erode the basic constitutional rights and democratic values of the citizenry. Banning smoking in public places is a carte-blanche, half-baked and reactionary solution to the so-called second-hand smoke phenomenon. Smokers have rights as well under their national constitutions.
Peter Lansiquot, Saint Lucia

For me there is something ridiculous and hypocritical in all this talk of banning smoking in bars. What are bars about? The reality is that they are places where people go to lawfully consume a very powerful and highly addictive drug, namely alcohol. A major killer and cause of many diseases. So what is the message here? You can drink yourself to death but you can't smoke yourself to death because you might, just a little bit, assist someone else in hastening their death. I'm sorry but I don't see the moral message here.
Frank, UK

There is no logical excuse for prohibiting its use in public places
Joe, UK
While I'm a non-smoker and detest being "held hostage" by other's smoke in public places, I have to say that it does come back down to the issue of the degree of personal freedom allowed to individuals. Smoking is not against the law, nor is tobacco a banned substance, so as it stands, there is no logical excuse for prohibiting its use in public places.
Joe, UK

What is the point of banning smoking in public places when the so called fresh air in our larger cities can be as bad as smoking 4 cigarettes a minute? (Evening Standard article 10th November 2003) I am an occasional smoker (15 a week) who doesn't drive a car. Who's doing the more harm?
Jane Lock, London, England

As a Brit now living in Victoria, BC, where they have a ban on smoking in bars, pubs and restaurants, I whole heartedly recommend a similar ban in the UK. The ban here helped me to quit smoking, which was something I wanted to do but found the urge most strong when I was socialising in bars and pubs with my friends, or after a particularly satisfying meal in a restaurant. Not having that option, except to go outside was a determining factor in my decision to quit and I have never felt better.
Jemma Lee, Canada

Why not have smoking and non-smoking pubs
Jason Waldron, Manchester, UK
As a smoker I have no problem in not smoking in shops, offices and places that serve food. BUT LEAVE PUBS ALONE. If non-smokers want to go to the pub then why not have smoking and non-smoking pubs and lets see which ones are still in business in 12 months!
Jason Waldron, Manchester, UK

15 years ago bans on smoking at work were being derided as "infringements on free choice" and "unenforceable" by the exactly the same people now spouting the same arguments about a public ban. As has been shown with employment law these people were quite simply, and still are .... wrong.
Alan Armstrong, UK

Ban around children as well as in public places. The majority does not smoke yet is held hostage to those addicted to nicotine.
Linda, Canada

We here in California have had a law in place to ban smoking in all public buildings for 6-7 years now and its been the best thing, we take our little ones out with out fear of second hand smoke and all the places we visit do actually smell better, all in all its been a great thing.
Robert Miller, USA, California

As an asthmatic, I have to avoid inhaling smoke due to the chest pains it causes me. And it's not just in pubs and restaurants, but even when walking down the street or waiting at a bus stop. It's unfortunate most smokers don't show consideration for others around them (when is the last time someone asked you if it was okay to smoke?). I think a total ban would be beneficial overall in terms of reduced NHS costs as well as giving people back the freedom to CHOOSE NOT to breathe in smoke.
Magnus, Sweden-UK

Ban drinking in public places.
Alec, UK

Why are my rights so much less important than the rights of the smoker?
Rebecca, UK
There are a lot of comments here being made comparing passive smoking with the effects of alcohol abuse on others. They seem to be missing a very important point: in SOME CASES, drinking alcohol can have a detrimental impact on other people around the drinker. In ALL CASES, passive smoking has an effect, however small that individual effect, on those around the smoker. Why are my rights so much less important than the rights of the smoker?
Rebecca, UK

As an ex smoker, all I can say is that I can't believe that I used to have the smell in my hair and on my clothes. However I don't think we should penalise people because they smoke. Give them an area and make sure it's well ventilated. It's the only way.
Sim Haskell, UK

While due consideration is given to the second hand smoke issue, please find another argument other than the smell of someone's clothes. While some might find it offensive, there are many perfumes/after shaves I find particularly offensive, even more overbearing than cigarette smoke inside an elevator. Maybe we should include foul and cheap scents in the congressional debate.
David Fenn, USA

Cigarette Companies should be banned.
N, Canada (ex-Jordan)

If smoking is to be banned in public places, how will the ban be enforced? I travel on buses where smoking has been banned on the upper deck for years, but people still smoke there and only one driver has ever told someone to stop. I also shop in non smoking shopping arcades, where people openly flaunt the ban.
Gill, UK

I love beer but this lunchtime I turned down a pint and a sandwich with my colleagues because there is no way I am going to sit at my desk for the rest of the afternoon reeking of cigarette smoke. I personally would spend more time and money in pubs if they were smoke free. New York is one of the best cities in the world and going non-smoking has not harmed it a bit - I know, I was there a few weeks ago.
Wyn, London, UK

I do not want a complete ban on smoking as human beings should have a right to choose
Elaine, UK
I am on my 19th day of giving up smoking and can honestly say that I have never felt better. I am still amazed at how people who smoke "smell". But having said that I do not want a complete ban on smoking as human beings should have a right to choose if they smoke or not. But it would be nice to go out and not come home smelling like an ashtray...
Elaine, UK

Its all very well people saying that there should be smoking and non-smoking areas, but last time I checked the actual smoke and smell doesn't tend to pay any attention to any type of sign. It still makes me gag and chock till my eyes water no matter how strongly worded a sign may be or how far away I am from a smoking area!
Neil Ray, England

So many people, children especially die through passive smoking, inhaling other people's smoke. The smokers themselves know the risk and it's one that they choose to take but when young children and possibly adults are perhaps walking around London, they have no choice but to inhale the smoke because it's all around. Shouldn't you have enclosed areas where smoking is allowed. Also, if you stop smoking in public places, it may cut down on deaths and illnesses due to smoking. Unfortunately, where I live smoking is allowed.
Zahava Lever, England

I agree. The evidence is overwhelming. How tobacco companies get away with saying that there is no link between smoking and poor health is shocking. Lung cancer is the biggest cancer killer in the world (including the UK). It is also over 90% PREVENTABLE. That is the travesty. As to those who say 'I have a right to smoke' THERE IS NO RIGHT TO SMOKE, especially if by doing so you adversely affect the health of others. There IS, however, a RIGHT TO LIFE.
Joanne Kosmin, England

I think that smoking in enclosed public spaces, pubs, restaurants, shops, enclosed stations etc should be banned unless specifically allowed. As such, there will be "Smoking Areas" rather than "No Smoking Areas". It should also be against the law for non smokers to be forced to enter smoking areas. Bar areas, entrances, platforms, concourses and thoroughfares to facilities would become non smoking by default. Enforcing a no smoking policy in open air spaces would however be unworkable.
Ian, UK

Smokers should be allowed their own area, as should non-smokers
Paul, Edinburgh
People should stop being so reactionary and calling for an outright ban. Smokers should be allowed their own area, as should non-smokers. Also, to all those who say that smoking affects those around you whereas drink doesn't, how many kids are run over, people attacked, spouses abused, etc every year because of alcohol? I think you'll find the figures are very high.
Paul, Edinburgh

A good point to make here is not just about passive smoking. If smoking is banned from public places it may help to discourage people from starting in the first place. Which has to be a good thing. If smoking was invented tomorrow it would be outlawed just like any other drug.
Danny, UK

Yes, it should! I don't see why I have to passive smoke especially in restaurants just because smokers light their cigarettes wherever and whenever they want. Not to mention the lack of respect for children that some or most of them seem to have. If they want to smoke, that's fine, it's their choice but non smokers should not be obliged to inhale other people's rubbish!
Carla Di Bonito, UK-Brazil

The amazing thing is that smokers really have no idea how much they stink - as a reformed smoker (27 years now - between my wife and myself we have saved the best part of 200,000) I find it quite astonishing that anyone pretends to ENJOY the experience - it is an addiction, pure and simple, as serious as any banned drug...
David, UK

I (as a smoker) fully support this as banning it in pubs etc will help people get over the social association with smoking, which I believe to be the main cause. The hardest challenge for any smoker is to not have a cigarette with a pint, and banning it will condition smokers so that we become familiar and more confident in a social situation, without the need for a cigarette as a 'prop'.
Max Richards,

If we are going to go down those puritan lines, we might as well ban everything
James, UK
People should be free to smoke if they wish to. The argument that smoking kills does not follow. There are many things that kill, but are legal. Fast food, Cola, alcohol for example. If we are going to go down those puritan lines, we might as well ban everything.
James, UK

James (UK) totally misses the point. The ban on smoking in public is to combat 'passive' smoking. You can't possibly compare this with fast food or alcohol, unless James is in the habit of force-feeding passers-by every time he has a burger or drinks a beer!
Andrew Carter, UK

If there is such a demand for non - smoking pubs, why is the non-smoking area of a pub always the section with nobody in it?
Tony, Scotland

To answer Tony from Scotland, there's a non-smoking pub I know in Shrewsbury - and it's packed, every night. The landlord can't understand why more people don't go non-smoking...in his words, "just look at the business I'm doing". Precisely. Smokers can bleat all they want about their "right to smoke", but they never - EVER - have the "right" to make clean people around them carry the stench of their addiction.
Huw Davies, England

It is quite simple indeed; smoking in public places has to be banned, for the simple reason that you become a passive smoker when others smoke in your presence. And nobody has the right to damage your health by his or her actions and since simple measures will not do, banning is the only answer.

We need a total ban. Ventilation doesn't make a difference if the people on the next table or stood next to you are smoking. Business won't be hit as there are lots of people who would go to pubs again if the smoke was removed.
James, UK

Smoking should DEFINATELY be banned in public places, if people want to smoke their cancer sticks they can do so on their own.
Stephen, N Ireland

If smoking isn't banned I can soon see our courtrooms being filled with people suing smokers for attempted bodily harm if they light up beside them. And I agree with it. They are all drug addicts who need help.
Ben Bell, England

Smokers are very selfish and in my eyes smoking should be banned altogether
Chris, UK
Smoking should without a doubt be banned in public places. Why should non-smokers have to give up there lives to lung cancer etc just because others want to. Smokers are very selfish and in my eyes smoking should be banned altogether but unfortunately I cannot see this happening. But a ban in public places is a start.
Chris, UK

As a non smoker, and knowing that 1000 people die from passive smocking every year, I believe that I have the right to use public transportation, airports, walk down the street without facing the disrespectful behaviour of someone blowing smoke in your face. We are already breathing polluted air, lets not make it worse.
M. Abusaa, Jordan

When I hear of a smoker who after going through a packet of twenty, went home and attacked their partner, or when driving knocked down and killed a pedestrian, or had to be admitted to hospital where they attacked the staff, or vomited in the street, or started a fight at a football match or made a general nuisance of themselves then I might agree. Listen up folks; alcohol is the menace, or does that impinge upon your preferences? All in all this sounds very much like a witch hunt in which people can vent their anger on a politically easy target.
Roger, UK

We have had a no smoking in the workplace for years in Toronto. There's no doubt about it smoking KILLS. If someone went around spraying poison gas into the air, how would people react! Just think about it! It's like trying to wean babies from their bottles. Yes definitely it should be banned in public places.
Barbara Frank, Canada

I believe - and hope - that nicotine is a drug that's had it's day
Tim, UK
As an ex-smoker that smoked for 20 years and gave up in February (after two major attempts) I only wish smoking had been banned 20 years ago. It would have made it a lot easier for me and the hundreds of other people that want to quit to do so. I know many people still wish to spend their hard-earned on lining the pockets of evil corporations and killing themselves (and many believe it's their right to pollute my air in the process), but I believe - and hope - that nicotine is a drug that's had it's day.
Tim, UK

So-called smokers' rights end where my right to live a tobacco-free lifestyle is infringed. Simple as that. Ban it now!
Steve Olson, UK

Having visited the UK a few months back, I discovered restaurants to be 'light years' behind New Zealand in imposing voluntary bans. NZ is about to pass legislation banning smoking in all pubs and clubs.
Dave, New Zealand

Some incredible nonsense being posted here - comparing passive smoking with traffic pollution? Yes, many smokers do smoke because they love it, but many more are hopelessly addicted to nicotine and are very scared of trying to stop - even though they know that cigarettes are responsible for a massive proportion of avoidable lung cancer, heart attacks and amputations. I have just chosen to pack it in as there are fewer and fewer places where I was welcome as a smoker. I think people should start getting used to this inevitable ban and use it as a good reason to start quitting.
Dan, UK

I rather think all this talk about cigarette smoking is pointless when one is forced to inhale the thick, putrid excuse for air alongside roads of busy traffic, whilst the holier than thou non smoking drivers pat themselves on the back for being pollution free.
Cliff Cotterill, UK

Smoking should be a private activity
Sarah, Egypt
I believe that smoking should be banned in public places. Smokers don't understand the damage they do to the people around them's health and also theirs. Smoking should be a private activity that should have special places for it so that smokers would be more encouraged to quit when they feel their exclusion from other people in the society.
Sarah, Egypt

I have noticed that good ventilation in pubs is very rare. They are expensive to install and expensive to maintain, call out charges if they brake down are enormous. Subsequently, I go to the pub and come back home smelling absolutely vile and that is only because of my fellow smokers surrounding me. I do not think that smoking should be banned in pubs but the poor ventilation.
Inga, England

Each morning I'm assailed by smoke from fellow commuters lighting up as soon as we leave the train, and in the packed conditions of the railway station and my walk to work the smoke is every bit as in-your-face as it would be if they were smoking on the train. It's invasive, disgusting and bad for you on prolonged exposure, so I'd welcome a ban eagerly.
Tim Reid, UK

Smoking should be banned everywhere in public, even outside. I'm tired of getting stuck walking behind smokers on the sidewalk. Or worse, getting on an elevator with someone who just came in from a smoke. It's nasty!
Chris Macsurak, USA

In California we do not smoke in public places and also New York City has banned it. If they can do it England can do it. If you are in a bar just go outside.
Howard Rosenstein, USA (San Diego)

It's not like the smoky air stops at the end of the smoking section
Shanda, USA
Smoking is an incredibly invasive habit. Second hand smoke is a known health hazard. In addition, the odour is offensive and irritating to the non-smoker. If a person is smoker, was a smoker or grew up around a smoker, the smell probably isn't that big of a deal. But for people like me, the odour and its effects make life incredibly uncomfortable. And as far as smoking and non-smoking sections at a restaurant goes, it's a joke. It's not like the smoky air stops at the end of the smoking section.
Shanda, USA

Our Health Minister says "Smoke-free places are the ideal, but the evidence is that public opinion remains divided". Well, public opinion is also divided on the death penalty, but I don't see the government rushing to bring it back!
Edward NC, UK

1) If people wish to commit a slow form of suicide - let them do it on their own, but it can't ever be condoned that their habit should be inflicted upon non smokers. Non smokers do not affect smokers!
2) Smoke travels! Drinking a drink does not.
3) The majority do not smoke!
4) Nicotine is a seriously addictive drug which cannot be compared with alcohol - which is made in the body, even teetotallers make it!
5) It is wonderful to go out and not stink of smoke later - even a lot of non smokers feel the same!
Cate, UK

Try New York where there has been a ban on smoking in bars for almost a year. It's great.
Stuart, USA/UK

It's not a human right, whatever anybody says
Matt, USA
Since moving to California, I have found the public smoking ban to be my favourite thing about living here. Instead of inconveniencing non-smokers, and forcing them into the cramped back sections of pubs and restaurants - where the non-smoking section always seems to be - the law forces smokers themselves to make accommodations for their own habit. Let them stand outside the pub and smoke, if they must smoke. It's not a human right, whatever anybody says. It's an addiction.
Matt, USA

I read a lot of comments about smokers "rights"... The only "right" I can see a smoker has over a non-smoker is to choose to die of lung cancer by smoking. They appear though to have rights that non-smokers don't have - for example 10 minute work-breaks every hour...
Ian, UK

Yes, please ban it. I'm a businessman and want to ban it in my establishments but if I do and others don't, I'll lose custom and will go bust. We need the government to stop wailing around wondering, and start putting into action a ban on smoking in all public places.
John H, UK

I was at Stanstead last week eating breakfast in a non-smoking area before my early flight. A couple stood right next to me and both lit up their cigarettes. The woman said to her companion "if it's no smoking, I don't care, I couldn't care less". I had to move, less my clothes ended up stinking as she did and my lungs were filled with her vile output. These selfish, ignorant, stupid need to be stopped. Signs are obviously not enough to stop them polluting the rest of us, it should be banned, and they should be prosecuted.
Patricia, UK

Lighting up on crowded platforms is both anti-social and dangerous
Dave Howard, UK
I strongly support the ban on smoking in all public places. I would particularly like to see an immediate ban at all railway stations in UK. Lighting up on crowded platforms is both anti-social and dangerous.
Dave Howard, UK

I would welcome a ban on smoking in public places as much as the next non-smoker. However, people that have said that smokers place a great burden on the NHS are not correct. The tax that the government receives from tobacco products far outweighs the cost of treating smoking related diseases. It is for this reason that the government will always be reluctant to impose curbs on smoking.
Mark, England

It's not all bad having to go outside to smoke. There can be a camaraderie you don't get in other situations. Smoking has been banned for years where I live and work. Conversations often start up with others who are outside for a quick smoke. I know of a couple who got married after getting to know each other while smoking outside. You meet new people. The only trouble is, they all smoke!
Maur, Canada

YES! Ban it! I was interested to read the other responses here. Those against smoking give constructive arguments for banning it, most of those for smoking give the kind of responses that you would expect from an addict. I am tired of feeling physically sick, having streaming eyes and nose and sore throat because of people smoking near me. I have even had to stand in the rain on occasion because of people lighting up inside bus shelters. This is a democracy and the majority have had enough.
Anya, UK

As an ex smoker I can see both sides to this argument
Stephanie, UK
This is a tricky one. I think smoking should be banned on public transport, in public buildings, cafes and restaurants. Not in bars, pubs and nightclubs. The right to smoke socially in adult environments is no less of a right than the right for non-smokers to socialise in smoke free environments. As an ex smoker I can see both sides to this argument.
Stephanie, UK

Living in California, where smoking in restaurants and pubs has been banned for some years now, the benefits of such policy is clear. No one is affected when I take a sip of my beer or a shot of my whiskey, but when I take a pull on my cigarette, everyone is forced to participate. Every bartender here in California will agree that working in a place free of the constant reek of cigarette smoke is a relief, even those that smoke themselves. I'm not saying that the UK should take too much advice from policy here in the US, but in this case we have the right idea.
Nathaniel Wolf, USA

As a smoker (who has tried to stop many times) I don't think it should be totally banned, but where children are concerned yes I do. I don't smoke anywhere near my children (I smoke outside my house) all year round, and I cannot smoke anywhere near my children's school. But I still think people have the right to smoke. All these comments from some of the non-smokers anger me, may be we should have a total ban on cars (that would make the air cleaner from pollution)that way non smokers and smokers could still breath cleaner air.
Ally, UK

The voluntary ban just doesn't work
Dave Gittins, England
I thoroughly agree there should be a ban on smoking in public places. We are tired of sitting in pubs and restaurants breathing other people's smoke, especially when we are trying to eat. One local pub, where the landlord refuses to set aside "no smoking areas" has - regrettably - been off our list for a long time. He is a nice guy with a lovely pub, we just can't stand the smoke. The voluntary ban just doesn't work and enforcement action is needed. More and more we are voting with our feet.
Dave Gittins, England

I see the self-righteous and so-called clean living brigade have come out in force again. What about non-smoking drink drivers who put themselves and others at risk? Surely they are more of a public danger and police resources would be better used catching these and other real criminals rather than chasing me down the street for enjoying my morning cigarette? However, as a reasonable and thoughtful human being I do agree that there should be non-smoking areas and places so those who cannot stand smoking do not have it forced upon them. However, life is tough enough without more senseless restrictions being brought in.
Sally Crane, England

As a smoking cessation counsellor I am very much aware of the dangers of passive smoking. Personally, I refuse to enter a premises where I would be exposed to the thousands of harmful chemicals and carbon monoxide that would be floating around in the atmosphere. Seventy five percent of the people in this country do not smoke. Why is it that the minority have all the choice while the rest of us have to suffer?
Steve Davey, Wales

Yes smoking should be banned in public places. Why should the non-smoking majority be forced to endure cigarette smoke in pubs and restaurants? Not all restaurants have non-smoking areas, and even if they do, usually there is not enough seating in them and frequently we have to walk through smoking areas to reach them.
Elizabeth Ward, England

Smokers should have the right to smoke but not the right to inflict their killer habit on others
Mark Melbourne, UK
I understand that smokers want the freedom to smoke where and when they want however the smoke they produce contaminates the surrounding area regardless of feelings. Would smokers get offended is non-smokers started sneezing or coughing at them? Smokers should have the right to smoke but not the right to inflict their killer habit on others. Canada has adopted the no smoking in public places rule and its a joy to go out and have a drink in a clean and fresh environment.
Mark Melbourne, UK

I wonder where this will lead. Will parents be allowed to smoke in their own homes? Housemates? The seatbelt law should show us that sooner or later I will not be allowed to smoke in my own at home!
Laurence, UK

If you can't stand the smoke get out of the pub.
John, UK

To John, UK: If you can't stand the fresh air, go into a vacuum.
Nat, UK

You can't compare smoking and drinking. That is, you don't get secondary liver disease from other people drinking! Yes, they should ban smoking in public places. Cars and buses do pollute the air but there is a purpose to them in that they are a method of transport. There is no purpose to smoking other than purely leisure.
Spencer Warhurst, UK

It is a truly filthy habit which costs the NHS a fortune
Brenda T, UK
A ban on smoking in public places cannot come quick enough for me! We hear frequently from smokers that they should have 'freedom of choice'. Where is the 'choice' of non-smokers not to inhale second hand smoke? It is a truly filthy habit which costs the NHS a fortune, and which would be far better spent on research into the major killer diseases of our time!
Brenda T, UK

Yes, yes and yes! Ban smoking now. I hate reeking of someone's exhaled smoke.

Let's not go overboard here and say that people cant smoke anywhere at all because that is too much of a shock to the system. Let's use an incremental approach, starting with the bars and restaurants. If this is not working voluntarily, then instead of making it an offence for the public, then why do we not make it the responsibility of the owners of the establishments by using legislation directed at them?
Tariq Hossain, UK

There are strict legal restrictions on the use of other chemicals to provide a safeguard for individuals' health. Why should cigarettes be any different.
Susan, Scotland

Why not give publicans a choice of having a food license or a smoking license - but not both?
Gary, UK
I think smoking should be banned in train stations, at bus stops, in restaurants, etc. Why not give publicans a choice of having a food license or a smoking license - but not both? This would lead to having consumer choice of pubs where you can smoke and those where you can't.
Gary, UK

It's about time that smokers gave up on this ridiculous notion that the NHS could not survive without the taxes it receives from cigarette sales. The burden placed on the NHS as a result of smoking related diseases far outweighs any income it may receive from smokers themselves. Just one more reason why smoking should be banned in public places.
Alun Carter, UK

My sons work in bars /and spend free time there. This worries me. Smoking should be banned in all pubs and restaurants.
joy Nichol, England

1) I'm in NYC where they banned smoking this year. There was an initial uprise, which has since subsided. I'm not a smoker but was sceptical at first. However, not wreaking of cigarette smoke after a night of drinks is definitely worth it.
2) those of you likening smoking to drinking in public, c'mon. I don't get drunk/liver disease by just sitting next to someone having some beers. The same can't be true of smoking.
Clint, NYC, USA

Let me have one daily enjoyment please?
In a word no! Let me have one daily enjoyment please? I'd also like to see a ban on adverts asking you to quit smoking and doctors trying to persuade you to quit. It's personal preference whether you quit or not and I for one am not quitting no matter who is asking me to. If I was being paid to quit or given an incentive to quit (and not by simply just saying how much I'd save if I quit or how much healthier I would be) then I might consider it.

I smoke and have done so since I was 18. I can understand why people want to be able to go somewhere without the smoke in the air, but equally the smokers want somewhere to go where they can enjoy a ciggi in peace. A blanket ban on smoking in public places is not the answer, as cigarette smoke outside disperses almost instantly. Pubs, Bars, restaurants should decide to make themselves either smoking or non-smoking but an all out ban would be unfair on the smokers.
John, UK

Something has got to be done to kill the mystique of smoking. I still see school children lighting up a gasper as they try to look big. Ask them what they truly get out of it, offer them a fiver and a match to light it with, take them to the local tax office with the equivalent 4 duty and hand it over the counter, with a smile of course as they are duty the rest of us non smokers a tax saving favour.
John Bennington, UK

Why don't pubs get better ventilation systems with all the money they make from selling cigarettes?
Peter, UK
I feel that smoking to be banned in bars would be a mistake, I think when you go to a bar you should be free to smoke, but in restaurants it should be banned because food and fags don't mix! It is a bit over the top to ban it everywhere. Why don't pubs get better ventilation systems with all the money they make from selling cigarettes?
Peter, UK

No, but it should be compulsory for public venues to install and operate effective air filtration systems that reduces the smoke to a very low level. I don't wish to see yet another Government ban, but neither do I want to have to breathe other people's smoke.
Kate S, England

What ever happened to freedom? Each restaurant owner/establishment should have the right to choose if they want to be a smoking or non smoking place, there shouldn't be a ban. Then let each member of the public decide if they want to be exposed or not to smoking. I also think it's rich that non smokers moan about the effect on there health, I suppose non of them drive a car or use aerosols.
Vicki, UK

Let's just go the whole hog and ban cigarettes, period. Firstly, it would create a thriving illegal market which would be a lesser evil than the current thriving illegal market in soft and hard drugs. Secondly, it would ensure that smoking only takes place in privacy of individual homes and therefore completely eradicate the problem of passive smoke.
Louis Berk, UK

Please ban smoking in public places. It makes my life a misery
SUSAN BAYLEY, United Kingdom
Please ban smoking in public places. It makes my life a misery. I absolutely loathe it and cannot wait until you stop it. I would do anything to help if I could be of use. My whole family smoke and I am really lucky that none of my children do. Every time I go into a pub and that is often because I play in a band, I suffer from the smell and streaming eyes and my cloths smell and I can't stand breathing it in all the time. Please don't wait any longer. The USA and Canada have done it, so can we.
SUSAN BAYLEY, United Kingdom

I am a non-smoker and hate being in areas where people are smoking. I rarely visit pubs, clubs and restaurants, and think that while smoking is legal in this country, it should be the choice of the establishment whether it permits smoking or not. I do think this should be advertised clearly so members of the public have a choice. Trust in market forces to reflect the opinion of the public! There are some areas where you have no choice i.e. attending a business conference, on public transport, and in these areas smoking should be completely banned.
Steve, England

I believe that smoking should be banned inside nightclubs, bars and restaurants... but there should be an area outside that can be easily got to for the people that do wish to smoke... passive smoking causes cancers and non smokers should not be forced to be in an environment that affects their health in such a way.
Rachel Hawker, England

If it can be regulated in New York, it can be regulated here
Elizabeth Blythe, England
Just come back from New York where there is such a ban and it was wonderful to be in a no smoking environment. If it can be regulated in New York, it can be regulated here.
Elizabeth Blythe, England

I understand the need to stop people smoking, but I find almost offensive to use passive smoking as an excuse, and I would like someone to explain the difference between breathing a cigarette smoke and a car smoke. Yet we are not doing much to stop using our cars. Are we? LA is a good example where smoking in not allowed, and when you came out of the healthy smoking free restaurant, you could hardly see the person walking next to you, because the pollution level.
JLOP, Spain

There are coffee shops or restaurants which do not let customers to smoke. I as a smoker, never go to those places. I think non-smokers have a choice as well. If they are not happy with other people to smoke around them, they can simply avoid going to places which smoking is allowed there. Smokers have the same rights as non-smokers. I can't believe how non-smokers expect us to stop smoking simply because they don't like it. If you don't like it, just go to places which smoking is not allowed there. End of story.
Mehdi, London, UK

It just seems to smack again of government interference in peoples lives
Paddy, UK
Although I see as a ban as desirable it just seems to smack again of government interference in peoples lives. As the governments of the UK (and USA) believe in market forces they must concede that their is little demand for a complete ban in public places as these would exist if there was a demand for it. There needs to encouragement of proper ventilated areas in bars and pubs (maybe a return to the 'Smoke Room' of old pubs) which at least gives the public a choice. Also policing of the ban would be prohibitively expensive and difficult to enforce
Paddy, UK

People are making way too big a deal about this. I live in Queens, NY and there has been a smoking ban on everything from shopping centres to restaurants and bars. People will eventually get used to it, and most bars in Queens flout the laws after a certain time of the night anyway.
Sean, USA

I agree with both sides but anti-smokers need to beware, as if they push this through without regard for smokers' rights (they have them too!) we will end up with a Big Brother society where government tells everyone what to do. What next? Being arrested for wearing a loud shirt in a built up area or for being in possession of an offensive tie?
David Jordan, UK

Our meal was ruined as we could not wait to get outside to breathe some fresh air
John, USA
During a recent trip to London my family was reminded of a main difference between restaurants in Europe and the US. We were literally surrounded by chain smokers during our entire meal. One woman even asked the waiter if the establishment sold cigarettes after she finally ran out. Thankfully, the restaurant did not and we had a temporary reprieve. But our meal was ruined as we could not wait to get outside to breathe some fresh air.
John, USA

With a 40 a day addiction (although planning to pack up soon) I'm a major passive smoking culprit. However, I feel there's rightly an inevitability about the ban. In 25 years time, people will look back in amazement that the minority could pose a threat to others' health in public areas. Hope I'll be one of the majority by then!
Kevin Towers, UK

After smoking, what is going to be under the spotlight next? Drinking? Mobile phones? Too much perfume? Bodily odour? Undesirable literature? No. Governments are too hooked on their power over our lives. This nonsense should be stopped right now.
Toby, Spain

Are the police now expected to chase illegal smokers down the street as well?
Paul C, UK
Our valuable police time is already taken up chasing petty motoring crimes instead of focussing on the bigger issues. Are the police now expected to chase 'illegal' smokers down the street as well?
Paul C, UK

I moved to just north of Austin, Texas last year from London. The city I live in recently banned smoking in all public places, Austin is just about to follow suit and some places have already voluntarily done this. It's great. We can go out for the evening and not come home smelling of smoke. I don't think anyone has suffered from not being able to smoke in a bar or restaurant but certainly those who don't smoke have had to suffer for years from the second-hand smoke of those that do.
Simon Salt, USA/ ex-pat

If we are to ban smoking in all public areas to improve our health then can we please ban all cars, buses and other petrol burning polluters too?
Carolyne, England

The ban would be a 'breath of fresh air'. I recently spent sometime in Los Angeles where it is illegal to smoke inside any bar, restaurant, conference hall etc. Smoking however is permitted outside on the streets. It was fantastic being able to enjoy a drink in a bar and not to reek of smoke afterwards. The sooner the change happens the better!
Saly Kiel, England

She now has to avoid smoky places
Jackie Plume, England
Staff in bars are at risk. My daughter (who was a sports science student with no family history of asthma) developed asthma while working evenings in a bar to supplement her student loan. She now has to avoid smoky places.
Jackie Plume, England

It's ok suggesting that pubs and restaurants should have no smoking areas but unfortunately the smoke has no respect for the boundaries. If you are unlucky enough to be seated adjacent to the smoking area you will still be subject to the smell and the associated hazards.
Richard, England

As a smoker I see myself in a year's time hiding under the stairs at home to have a fag. Please stop this ridiculous prosecution of smokers. If the doctors are really so concerned about the health of the nation then pressure the government to ban the sale of fags altogether. If they weren't so easily available I, like many other smokers, would stop straight away! Then again who would fund the NHS?

An attempt at changing our culture and way of life
Brian, England
An outright ban would be an attempt at changing our culture and way of life. I think that would be an infringement on smokers' rights as well as their non-smoking friends.
Brian, England

As a parent with young children, I'd like to see smoking in the street banned. I can choose which restaurant to go into, but am fed up with standing in bus queues behind chain smokers blowing fumes in my children's faces. If people want to smoke at home, fine, let them pollute their own air, not mine.
Henri, UK

Why don't we ban smoking immediately and give all ex-smokers lower tax rates to make up for the fantastic contribution they have made to this country.
Neil, UK

Whilst I would love bars and restaurants to be less smoky, it's pretty divisive. Are half my friends going to one pub and the other half to another?
Anna, UK

I feel that my life is severely affected by other peoples' smoking habits
Susan Richards, Wales
I have never smoked but I suffer from chronic bronchial problems. My problems are made worse daily due to smokers at the bus stop. This means that I am quite unwell by the time I get to work and the effects can last from some hours. I am unable to go into pubs and can only have meals in non-smoking restaurants. I feel that my life is severely affected by other peoples' smoking habits. I would very much welcome a ban on smoking in public.
Susan Richards, Wales

Yes, smoking should be banned. It smells unpleasant, it tastes nasty andnd makes me feel ill! Maybe the hospitality industry will gain business from those who do not or no longer use the services due to the unpleasantness of being in a smoky environment.
Lesley, England

Ban non-smokers in public places, problem solved!
Toby, UK

I am not a smoker. But, I also believe in smokers' rights to a reasonable degree. At the same time, the findings of a respected medical college should also be respected. The challenge is to balance medical repercussions with economic determinism and public-health realities. Smoking may be a bad habit. But, it also sustains a sizeable aspect of the economy epitomised by the tobacco industry, which creates jobs and tax revenues - the loss of which could unleash a devastating effect on families and the economy supported by the products and sales. Designating smoking and non-smoking areas in large public places with adequate ventilation systems and outright ban in small enclosures may solve the problem.
Igonikon Jack, USA

Don't ban, do regulate. Require all venues wanting to permit smoking to apply for a permit to have smokers either throughout the establishment or in a separately ventilated are so they can't contaminate the non-smoking area.
Richard, England

The NHS could not survive if smoking was made illegal
Chris Brannigan, Scotland
I would welcome a mandatory 'no smoking section' rule in pubs and clubs, ban smoking in restaurants and even perhaps on the street but not an out and out ban. The cost to the country would be huge, what with smoking related illnesses costing about one sixth of the total revenue brought in from tax on tobacco. The NHS could not survive if smoking was made illegal and a ban on public smoking would probably throw the system into great financial crisis and drive our taxes up to even higher levels.
Chris Brannigan, Scotland

I suppose with the ban on smoking the incidents of anti-social drinking crimes will go away? I smoke which doesn't lead to me to hit the nearest person because I don't like the way he is looking at me. Everybody will live their lives according to doctors' research. Is chocolate good or bad for me this week?
Sonia, Guernsey, UK

After a year's trial of a voluntary code our local sailing club recently debated a ban on smoking in the club house at its AGM. The majority of the people who spoke were against smoking not on health reasons but rather because of the offence that smoking gave. The smell in the air, the effect on taste and the lingering smell on clothes. The motion to ban smoking whilst the galley was open and to restrict the permitted area for smoking at other times was carried overwhelmingly. Of the sixty odd members present there were six who voted against and four who abstained. For my own part I no longer go into a pub or restaurant that permits smoking. Over to you in the leisure industry!
Barry P, England

Should smoking be banned in public places?
5521 Votes Cast
Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Vote now closed

Doctors urge public smoking ban
25 Nov 03  |  London
Q&A: Passive smoking
25 Nov 03  |  Medical notes

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