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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 September 2005, 05:44 GMT 06:44 UK
Smoking ban to be debated in city
Smoking ban legislation to be raised at debate
Supporters of a total smoking ban in Northern Ireland are to present their case at a debate in Belfast.

The Health Promotion Agency, which is hosting the debate, hopes to convince those with doubts about the move.

However, members of the Federation of Retail Licensed Trade oppose a total smoking ban on the grounds that it could adversely affect business.

Health minister Shaun Woodward said he would decide in the autumn whether to introduce a full or partial ban.

The minister said in June that his decision would be "based on economic arguments".

Dr Brian Gaffney, of the Health Promotion Agency, said he was opposed to a partial smoking ban.

'Health risks'

"By bringing together a wide range of organisations from the private and public sector and presenting them with the evidence, we hope that they will join together in an advocacy... lobbying the minister to say, '100% smoke-free workplaces is the way forward in Northern Ireland'."

The Federation of Retail Licensed Trade said it recognised the "health risks associated with smoking," but maintained there were "ways to lessen the risk without affecting trade or resulting in job losses".

Issues expected to be raised at the debate on Tuesday will include the health risks of "second-hand" smoke and how legislation might impact on health inequalities and the workforce.

Speakers from England, the Republic of Ireland and Norway will share their own experiences of smoke-free legislation.

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