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Last Updated: Tuesday, 31 May, 2005, 05:57 GMT 06:57 UK
Minister 'should ban NI smoking'
Prisons are exempt from the NI ban
Prisons are exempt from the NI ban
New Health Minister Shaun Woodward is being urged to ban smoking in Northern Ireland.

The call to Mr Woodward coincides with World No Tobacco Day.

The Health Promotion Agency said the minister should make an announcement on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.

Chief Executive Dr Brian Gaffney said the Department of Health received 70,000 responses to the consultation on smoking which ended in March.

He said it was "now time a decision was made".

He added: "Smoking is the single greatest preventable cause of premature death and avoidable illness and around 3,000 people die from smoking related diseases in Northern Ireland every year."

We would encourage those employers who don't already have a no-smoking policy in their workplace to implement one now and not to wait for it to be enforced
Dr Brian Gaffney
HPA

The HPA said research it carried out in February revealed an increase in support for smokefree workplaces.

The results suggested 74% believed enclosed public places in Northern Ireland should be completely smokefree and 68% said they would support a law to make all workplaces smokefree.

"Bringing in smokefree workplaces would be one of the best ways to tackle smoking related illnesses and we would ask the government to stop dragging their heels and make a decision imminently," said Dr Gaffney.

"There is growing demand for a smokefree Northern Ireland and already a number of businesses and organisations are operating smokefree policies.

"We would encourage those employers who don't already have a no-smoking policy in their workplace to implement one now and not to wait for it to be enforced."

A smoking ban in all Northern Ireland government departments came into effect in January.

The ban sees smoking facilities removed and staff forbidden to light up on site. Prisons are exempt from the ban.

Many in Northern Ireland, particularly doctors and politicians, have called for a universal ban.

Since March 2004, smoking has been illegal in workplaces, including pubs and restaurants in the Republic of Ireland.

It was the first country in the world to introduce such a nationwide ban.




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