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Last Updated: Monday, 7 June, 2004, 08:34 GMT 09:34 UK
Is it right to ban smoking?
Pub-goers in Dublin enjoying their last cigarettes
Norway has introduced a nationwide ban on smoking in public places.

The aim is to achieve a smoke-free environment in pubs and restaurants to protect the health of those who work there.

The Norwegian government also hopes to "de-normalise" smoking as a social pastime.

The move follows similar legislation introduced in Ireland earlier this year.

What do you think? Should smoking be banned in all public places?

This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Why are we treating cigarette smoke differently?
Lee, UK
Why is it that cigarette smoke is different to any of the millions of noxious substances used in many, many different types of workplace each and every day, including pubs by the way. Any dangerous substance has a risk attached to it and it is the employers' duty to reduce the risk of the substance harming the employees as much as possible. Think of a paint factory... do they ban paint manufacture because the fumes are dangerous? There is an alternative agenda at play here... very poorly and very thinly veiled. Why are we treating cigarette smoke differently?
Lee, UK

I think it is totally ridiculous that you can't even have closed off smoking-areas for the paying customers at your restaurant! And I'm not talking about rooms that staff have to enter at all, I'm talking about a closed off SMOKING-ONLY area, where no food is to be served, and no-one is forced to enter at any time. It's just childish to ban such a thing.
Christof, Norway

To those who suggest pubs will ever voluntarily ban smoking you are quite simply living in a fairy tale world. Pubs know very well that non-smokers will put up with a smoky environment if they have to and as non smokers invariably have smoking friends everyone will just end up going to a pub which allows smoking.
Dominic Elliott Smith, UK

I am a non-smoker and I am delighted with how the ban has been enforced in Dublin. There was a lot of scare mongering leading up to the ban but since it came into effect there has been widespread comliance with it. Im sure many more countries will follow suit
Robert Kellaghan, Dublin, Ireland

By breaking the association of drinking and smoking, more people may give up completely
Alison, Leeds
Smoking should be banned in pubs and restaurants - primarily to protect the people who work there. However, I think it will also help discourage others from smoking. I have some friends who only ever smoke in pubs or clubs - they don't smoke at work or at home. By breaking the association of drinking and smoking, more people may give up completely.
Alison, Leeds

Pubs are public places as long as they are open to everyone. If people open cigar/cigarette clubs where you need to be a paying member to get in different rules apply. And the "ban junk food" argument is ridiculous, the whole point here is not that smoking harms the smoker, it is the fact that it harms "innocent" bystanders.
Geir, Norway

I can't tell you the fight I had about 5 years ago to get smoking banned in private offices at work - and now staff can't believe it was ever allowed. Since lots of smokers think a ban is a good idea, what's the problem?
Sally, England

I am a smoker but believe that the owner of the premises should decide whether smoking should be permitted or not. That way he can use it best to suit his profits and it also gives the non smokers one less thing to worry about. If a total ban was put in place, I would like to see how it would be implemented. In the area that I live, cannabis is smoked openly by people without a care in the world. I can't see it happening.
Rojer, UK

Yes. Absolutely smoking should be banned. The best way to reduce the damage done by smokers is to marginalize the habit. Let's reclaim pubs for people who prefer not to stink like an ashtray and wheeze like bedspring.
Mark Fulford, Southampton, UK

Surely we all deserve the right to work in a safe environment
Alan, Scotland
Everyone is missing the point. The rules are to protect the staff of workplaces from passive smoking. Surely we all deserve the right to work in a safe environment!
Alan, Scotland

I find the fumes from the 4x4s that double-park outside the school gates more offensive - can we ban those too?
James Murphy, Dorset, UK

I gave up smoking three months ago, I've never felt so healthy - it's great! Ban it asap so more people can discover the wonders of fresh air
Hughes, UK

Yes. Smokers can choose not to smoke. Non-smokers should not have to choose where they can go to avoid being exposed to smoke. Surely we have some human rights too?
Tony Windsor, Shrewsbury, England

I don't know what all the fuss is about - New Zealand introduced compulsory non-smoking areas in bars and restaurants over 20 years ago! So the rest of world is very slow in catching up. And about time too!
David, Netherlands

The ban in public bars is a great idea
Calvin, Stevenage, UK
I am a smoker. Recently I went to Dublin and I think the ban in public bars is a great idea. Just ban it, people will get used to it. If you want to smoke, go outside, it's simple
Calvin, Stevenage, UK

I would like to agree with Calvin from Stevenage. I to have recently come back from Dublin and found it no problem to go outside and smoke a ciggy. It was really nice not to walk into a cloud of smoke in the most popular pubs and then have to walk out again because it was too much to bear. Please bear in mind the staff at these places, they don't need it wafting in their faces as well as being on their feet for hours.
Shauna, UK

A great day for us non-smokers. I can't wait for Spain to introduce the same law. In fact they are on their way to doing so. Smoking has already been banned in all establishments that are classified as restaurants. Bars and the rest are soon to come, I hope.
Espen Grimstad, Spain/Norway

I think smoking should be banned everywhere. Even in the street you breathe in smoke from other people, it's horrible. Either that or make smokers pay for all NHS treatment regardless of cause.
Katy MacDonald, England

What a good idea. There is nothing more infuriating, than to be in a cafe or restaurant, and then to be wafted with someone's smoke. If these people want to smoke, let them go and stand outside in little shelters, as they now have to in most workplaces.
Antony Forst, Stoke on Trent, UK

It is too much control by government
Jovrum, USA
In large workplaces such as office towers, OK or set aside "smoking rooms" for employees. But as for pubs, bars, restaurants - let the owners decide on a smoking/no-smoking policy, then their employees/new hires can make their own decision based on the facts. Their customers will let them know if they approve or not! It is too much control by government - they should get out of our lives.
Jovrum, USA

I think the new law is great. Finally, you can actually go out, enjoy a cold beer without smelling like an ash tray the next day.
Sverre Nyquist, Norway

I smoke, and I just wish they'd ban it completely; get it over with, rather than this slow social outcasting that seems to be happening. If only the same amount of energy was pumped into educating and helping people trapped in the smoking "habit" to get out of it, perhaps there'd be less of a backlash when the inevitable happens.
Simon, Sydney, Australia

While I'm against taking away people's freedoms in general, cigarette smoke can cause very dangerous reactions to many people, like me. The risk of passing out momentarily is too great to ignore. I don't like to walk into a restaurant scared. If you want to smoke, go ahead, but please not among people who suffer greatly from it.
Kyuu Eturautti, Finland

If you don't like smoky environments, don't go to them
Vicky, UK
I'm an ex-smoker but do not condone the ban on smoking. People who smoke have just as many rights as people who don't. For goodness sake, if you don't like smoky environments, don't go to them. As someone before has said obesity costs the NHS far more money, so are we going to ban sugar, snack foods, and alcohol? At this rate we will be a nation of lettuce eating rabbits ruled by those "do-gooders" who have nothing better to do than think of ways to annoy significant parts of society one at a time.
Vicky, UK

Vicky, UK - By that reasoning a person is permitted to carry out any form of anti-social behaviour. By your rule, it is the person being subjected to the fouldsmell and harm that must give way. What a perverse notion.
Simon, London

Yes, "cars pollute too". And, methane gas from cattle destroys the ozone layer. So, what's your point? Are smokers saying that 2 (or 3) wrongs make a right? Society can only tackle so many issues at a time. For now, it's tobaccos turn. We'll get those evil cows next - I promise!!!
Patrick, Bethesda, Maryland - USA

Smoke free areas in pubs are a waste of time
As a smoker I think banning it in public places is a good idea, particularly where children are present. Parents who take children into smoke filled pubs are insane!! However pubs should be given the choice - either allow smoking or ban it completely. We all know that smoke free areas in pubs are a waste of time. This would give everyone a fair choice... It's a shame there isn't the same zeal to tackle other issues such as antisocial behaviour which causes more misery to a greater number of people and blights every town and city in England.

Did anyone notice that on the same day that the Royal College of Nurses confirmed their support for a smoking ban, they also rejected any drugs testing of nurses as an infringement of civil liberties? I wonder which is more dangerous, a nurse high on drugs or some second hand tobacco smoke?
David Regan, UK

Banning smoking is futile when the second you walk out of a pub you breathe something far more poisonous; let's ban big business emissions and all combustion engines first...
Rico, Sheffield, England

Rico of Sheffield is wrong. There are more carcinogens in tobacco smoke than there are in traffic fumes. Most smokers really do not understand what it is that they are inhaling.
Eccles, UK

Smokers say they have a 'right' to smoke in bars, clubs, pubs and other public places, but don't non-smokers have the 'right' not to put up with breathing in toxic fumes? The only real compromise is to have two totally separate areas that have are totally cut off so smoke doesn't drift over like it does in all current non-smoking areas. As for the car fumes argument, people need to use cars, people don't need to smoke.
Nick, Watford, UK

The ban is to protect the health of the workers, not to stop people smoking
Anne, Dublin, Ireland
Some of you seem to miss the point. The ban is to protect the health of the workers, not to stop people smoking. They are just not allowed to smoke where their habit will effect the workplace of people who choose not to smoke.
Anne, Dublin, Ireland

I quitted smoking almost 10 years ago, but occasionally, I will have a cigar with friends. Personally I don't mind people smoking. If you want to cut off all the bad things, I have seen more people suffering from drinking than smoking.
Alex, New Zealand, Auckland

If I walk into a pub or restaurant and ask whether I may indiscriminately spray poison around the establishment, the answer is bound to be "no". Although I am in full agreement that smokers may poison themselves to death if they wish, they have absolutely no right to poison others. Soon smoking in public places will be seen as disgusting as spitting.
Martin, Barcelona, Spain

I think it's great that smoking is being banned - if only the UK would follow Ireland's and Norway's lead! Well done to them both! I find it offensive to smell and inhale smoke while trying to enjoy a drink or a meal in a pub or restaurant. Non-smokers aren't doing the smokers any harm by not smoking, but smokers are giving all the non-smokers a lower quality of life because of their disgusting habit.
Alexandra, UK

Only if we can ban other pointless, harmful activities that people selfishly persist in pursuing. Eating fast food, for example. Or boxing. Or driving private motor vehicles. Ban it all.
James, London, UK

Walking around in Exeter for the day during summer means you breathe in the equivalent of many cigarettes in car fumes etc.... Is banning smoking going to make such a difference when there are still so many cars etc on the road that are chucking out nasty chemicals etc?
Katie, UK

Smoking is a disgusting habit that as far as I can tell has no benefit on the individual or society whatsoever. The "extra revenue" it brings in is spent on the healthcare of not only the smokers, but also the people who suffer from inhaling secondary smoke. I find it astonishing that in our supposed "civilised society" we allow this to continue.
Scott, Southampton, UK

I fear that we are standing on a slippery slope
Scott, California, USA
I fear that we are standing on a slippery slope. What's the next "evil" that big government is going to ban? Potato chips? Sugar?
Scott, California, USA

More proof that PC health-police are overtaking the world. Next it will be no laughing in bars and then no drinking.
Ian, Brit in USA

It is good for public health and for me too. Smoking should be banned in all public places.
Szybowski, Poland

I wonder how many of the "it's my human right to smoke if I want to" brigade would feel perfectly happy if I walked into their pub with a little spray bottle and started spraying carcinogenic chemicals into the air?
Adam, UK

What a ridiculous thing for the pro smokers to say, that passive smoking doesn't kill people! Inhaling cigarette smoke kills - are we going back 100 years and believing that it is good for your throat?!
Evan, UK

I'm a non smoker but I hope that the venomous anti-smoking brigade will now stop driving their cars and gas guzzling 4x4's and stop pumping noxious gases over us all. The only people who should complain about smoking are walkers and cyclists.
Keith Baldwin, Wales

Yes, smokers dirty the space that belongs to everyone. It's a shame that because of money some governments hesitate to take action against public smoking. They pay more to help ills related to smoking. This money is indirectly paid by non-smokers too.
Khoram Balaee, Iran

Great, no more smelly clothes or gasping for air in smoke filled rooms
Ken Collins, England

Enough evidence of the damage caused by passive smoking exists and a ban, in public places, would improve our quality of life. Great, no more smelly clothes or gasping for air in smoke filled rooms.....go for it!
Ken Collins, England

Smoking is disgusting, why should people who are educated enough to know not to smoke have to suffer for the ignorance of others. I fully support a pubic ban on smoking, if people want to smoke let them do it in their own homes. They have no right to poison other people who choose not to smoke.
Russell Davey, UK

I am a non smoker living a tobacco friendly country where, can you believe it, it is not illegal to sell cigarettes to minors no matter the age. I agree with the idea of a ban of smoking in public places, especially restaurants. The problem with smokers in restaurants is that they do not smoke whilst they are eating, difficult to do so I would imagine, but are happy to smoke whilst those around them are eating however much discomfort it may cause.
Chris Bradley, Switzerland

Following the recent NHS figures that smoking costs the NHS 1.5Bn and obesity costs 3.5Bn, may we also look forward to a ban on eating in public places, invoking heavy fines on the indiscriminate wrapper thrower? Can we also introduce a punitive tax on junk food?
Danny, Southampton, UK

As a non-smoker I'm still in favour of NOT introducing a smoking ban in pubs. Most people are talking here about pubs as 'public places' which are clearly NOT - they are privately owned and therefore you, as a paying customer, have the choice to give the pub owner money or not to give them money. If, as many are presenting the argument, far more people would go to the pub more often then it would make voluntary non-smoking rules an economically viable alternative (and we would have a bigger drink problem that we do now). That said, I do support bans in public places such as schools, town halls and government buildings.
Steve, Edinburgh

A lovely walk in the sun, a mouthful of some idiot's exhaled smoke... ugh! Ban it.
Tony H, Bristol, UK

While it remains legal to buy cigarettes it seems hypocritical to ban their use in a public place
Colin, UK
While it would be nice not to smell of smoke after a night out, this is just the first step to creating a health fascists paradise. What will be banned next? While it remains legal to buy cigarettes it seems hypocritical to ban their use in a public place.
Colin, UK

If other countries have success with a no smoking ban then why can't we? This could also have an effect on younger people not to start this bad habit. Let's give it a go,
John Young, Scotland

If the government makes everybody stop smoking, how are they going to make up the tax shortfall?
Thomas D. Jago, Saudi Arabia

I am not a smoker but I believe that some bars should have the right to allow smoking and ask non smokers to stay out if they do not wish to be "polluted" as others would say. Smoking is bad but a lot of jobs can be lost in a country that bans smoking in restaurants and bars
Willy Khoury, Beirut Lebanon

Get off our backs, Nanny. The pub belongs to everyone and if you don't like the atmosphere, find one where you do. Publicans can make their houses non-smoking if they see a market for it,
Andrew, UK

Pubs and Restaurants are not public places, but private places frequented by the public. Smoking is a private choice, and pubs are private businesses. It shouldn't be the government to dictate what to do, but the private businesses to adapt to demand. If there is a demand for free-smoke bars, then entrepreneurs will create/open some. I don't smoke but I accept the fact that there is smoke in pubs. I'd certainly try free smoke bars, but don't like the idea that the government will impose this to bar owners.
David Cormier, Tokyo, Japan

Whilst I welcome the idea of 'smoke-free' pubs, I look forward to the day when we have 'pub-free' cities. Smoking damages the physical health of the smoker and those in his vicinity. It does absolutely no good at all. Alcohol, on the other hand, causes physical, mental and social illnesses and is the root of most problems in our society.
MA, Leeds

Take care all you non smokers with a "holier than thou" attitude. What's next , fat people forcibly made to diet?, screening of unborn children and compulsory abortion for those deemed not quite perfect? Landlords reporting to the police customers who drink too much?.
Ian Hunter, England

Los Angeles and New York City have done something like this and it's no biggy. Just makes it better for non-smokers, makes sense to me and I smoke.
Dustin, USA

Smoking has recently been banned in Boston, and it is refreshing to have your clothing not polluted when you get home. This is a victory for public health!
Daivd B, US, MA, Boston

Smokers are a public nuisance and I hope the UK follows what has been achieved in the US, Ireland and now Norway. As a non-smoker I will sit in the non-smoking area of my local pub but the smoke drifts over and I am left with smelly clothes and needing a shower the moment I walk in the door. Often I find it difficult to breath. For these reasons I don't go to the pub often, but if they were a smoke free area then I would go more. I think other non-smokers would do the same.
Lara, UK

Yes, ban it globally. It is a disgusting habit, causes innocent people including children to passively smoke. It stinks and makes staff susceptible to inhalation of fumes during their work time, which is unfair on them. If you want to smoke do it in your own home or fellow smokers' homes.
Ben, UK

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