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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 June, 2005, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Smoking ban plans are announced
Shaun Woodward
Smoking ban was announced by Health Minister Shaun Woodward
The government is to introduce a partial smoking ban in Northern Ireland, the health minister has said.

Shaun Woodward is to take another few months to decide whether to bring in a blanket ban on smoking in all public enclosed places.

"The remaining few months will be about whether it is a total ban or a partial ban," he said.

The licensed trade has welcomed the decision not to announce a complete ban in Northern Ireland.

Nicola Carruthers, of the Federation of Retail Licensed Trade, said she was glad the minister was to look at the effect the ban has had in the Republic of Ireland.

"We have worked hard to demonstrate that the issue of passive smoking can be responsibly addressed by the licensed trade without the need for a total smoking ban," she said.

Wilfred Mitchell, of the Federation of Small Businesses, said he was glad the government had consulted the business community over the ban.

"We have always supported the right of employees to work in a healthy and safe environment," he said.

The remaining few months will be about whether it is a total ban or a partial ban
Shaun Woodward
NI health minister

Cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Relief has criticised the announcement to delay a decision on banning smoking in public places until the autumn.

Heather Monteverde of Macmillan in Northern Ireland said: "Following the overwhelming response to the government's consultation, in which an incredible 91% of people were reportedly in favour of a ban, the minister holds an enviably strong public mandate to move ahead with comprehensive legislation."

Gerry McElwee of the Ulster Cancer Foundation said it was "mind blowing" that a total ban had not been introduced.

"Two million workers are still routinely exposed to second-hand smoke in the workplace and in Northern Ireland 2,800 people die each year from smoking related illness," he said.

Smoking

Dr Brian Patterson of the British Medical Association said anything short of a total ban would not provide protection for all workers and non-smokers.

"We know that the majority of people here want the full protection that a complete end to smoking in all public places offers, he said.

The Health Promotion Agency has urged the government to act now to implement legislation to ban smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces.

Agency chief executive Dr Brian Gaffney said: "The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety received over 70,000 responses to the consultation on smoking, with 91% supporting Option C, a total ban on smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces."

Andrew Dougal, of the Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association, also said a complete ban must be introduced.

Smoker
There is a total ban on smoking in public in the Republic of Ireland

Mr Woodward announced his plan during an address on the future of the health service in the province.

He was addressing the chief executives of Northern Ireland's health boards and trusts at a hotel in Belfast.

He said: "And we have to examine how to enforce such a ban.

"We want the public on our side. We have to look at how such a comprehensive ban would affect businesses which depend on a licensed trade, on hotels, on the tourist trade, and what about prisons? Psychiatric institutions?

"That won't take long," he said.

The minister is expected to want to have a close look at how the ban was enforced in the Republic of Ireland and what impact it had on the licensed trade.

In the Republic of Ireland, smoking has been banned in all workplaces, including pubs, for well over a year.

The majority of those who responded to a recent public consultation on smoking said that is what should happen in Northern Ireland as well.




SEE ALSO:
Doctors call for NI smoking ban
04 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland
One year on for Irish smoking ban
29 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Minister 'should ban NI smoking'
31 May 05 |  Northern Ireland
Smoking stubbed out by government
01 Jan 05 |  Northern Ireland


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