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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 December, 2003, 16:30 GMT
Should smoking be banned?
Smoking should be completely banned in the UK, according to a top medical journal.

The Lancet said tens of thousands of lives would be saved by making tobacco an illegal substance and possession of cigarettes a crime.

An estimated 1,000 people a year in Britain died from inhaling second-hand tobacco smoke, its editorial claimed.

Smokers group Forest said the article was a sign that "the health fascists are on the march."

Would you support a ban on smoking? How would it be enforced? Would a ban in public places be sufficient? Or do you think smokers are being treated unfairly?

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


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received.

As like most non-smokers, I don't want to be a passive smoker
Naseem Ramsahye, UK

I am a non-smoker. I would imagine that banning smoking altogether would cause an illegal trade in tobacco similar to that of cannabis and other drugs. Would this then mean more crime that can be attributed as a 'drug-related crime'? It would also make smoking seem to be 'cooler' to kids, who in their teenage years want to rebel. I think that maybe a ban in public places would be sufficient if anything is going to be put in place at all, as like most non-smokers, I don't want to be a passive smoker.
Naseem Ramsahye, UK

It's not a question of seeking to criminalise smokers. Rather smokers need to be civilised. Just because smoking isn't illegal, doesn't mean you can ruin our meals, stand next to us on the railway platform, throw your fag ends in the street, flick ash on our clothes, smell awful next to us in the lift etc. If the threat of a complete ban can reduce the complete selfishness of so many smokers then bring it on!
Andrew, UK

Banning smoking in public places is long overdue. This should be indeed practiced by all the nations of the world. Smokers would probably argue that they have every right and all the freedom to smoke to their heart's content. But it should be emphasized to them that their killer second-hand smoke inhibits the rights and freedom of people to live a healthy life.
Janet Paulin, Philippines/Australia

No, I don't agree with a complete ban on smoking. Yes, lives could be saved but by banning smoking you are taking away people's free will to live their lives as they choose. If someone wants to smoke, drink, overeat, drive to fast, bungee jump off a bridge, sky dive without a parachute, it's their choice. All are dangerous, potentially life threatening activities. However, we do not need Big Brother to tell us how to live our lives.
Luke, UK

Excessive legislation is becoming the new English disease
Al, UK

It doesn't surprise me that banning smoking is the next item on the prohibitive society's agenda. If this lot have their way we will end up having less freedom than citizens of China or North Korea - both of which allow smoking including smoking in public places. I find it worrying that so many people's knee jerk reaction to anything they find disagreeable is to have a law against it - excessive legislation is becoming the new English disease.
Al, UK

Yes. An increase in areas that involve family events/places would be more effective.
Sean, UK

Why pick on smokers? Why not ban every form of recreation that has a record of fatalities? I'm a non-smoker, but I'm trying to be realistic and fair about this issue.
Chris Hunter, England

I would love to see smoking banned in this country but I can't see it being enforced. Why don't we strike a happy medium and ban it in public places? Then those who want to slowly kill themselves can do so without affecting me.
Emma, UK

I enjoy the benefits provided by a class of people who are happy to pay massive duties in order to shorten their lives
Bob, UK

With the government earning 9.5 billion per annum did the Lancet suggest how to make up the shortfall - general taxation; are non-smokers happy to pay 3p in the pound more to save smokers lives? I for one am not; I enjoy the benefits provided by a class of people who are happy to pay massive duties in order to shorten their lives. Keep on smoking!
Bob, UK

I never smoked until I was posted abroad on active service. Then, on pay days it was one pace forward, salute, pick up your money, pick up your 50 free cigs, salute, and one pace back. And, I've smoked like a trooper since. I don't want to smoke and I've tried everything to stop, lotions, potions, pills, patches, gum, hypnotherapy and acupuncture, I've even tried willpower and that was as bad. If smoking is so bad for me, can I take the government to court for attempted murder? They gave me my fist one after all is said and done.
John Lock, Wolverhampton, UK)

Banning smoking is a brilliant idea. Once the black market in cigarettes gets organised the price of a packet of twenty might even be cheaper than they are buying them legally.
Mike, UK

I doubt they would because the government would lose a lot of revenue. Also if people want to smoke it's their choice, after all it's supposed to be a free country.
Ian O'Brien, UK

It won't succeed unless we start by banning it from television and films. I don't want my kids to see people smoking in my living room!
Clive, UK

Can't we concentrate on tackling real issues? Like poverty, racism and various other injustices?
Lizzie, Scotland

I know you non-smokers entertain some eternal life fantasy, but we are all going to die. Can't we concentrate on tackling real issues? Like poverty, racism and various other injustices?
Lizzie, Scotland

What a wonderful way to create a new criminal underclass. Before heroin was made illegal there were around 500 registered heroin addicts in the country. You can see the difference prohibition made there with today's figures! It makes me wonder whether or not the people making statements about banning it have been indulging in some substance abuse themselves.
Mark, UK

A total ban in public places, workplaces, etc. is probably more practical
Lesley, Scotland
Ideally I would like to agree with a total ban on smoking. I am aware that this is impractical and I can't force my v