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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 April, 2004, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
Call to stub out public smoking
A cigarette in a bar ashtray
Doctors say thousands die each year from passive smoking
Ministers have come under pressure to follow Ireland's lead and introduce a smoking ban across the UK.

Labour peer Lord Dubs said a British ban would make sense "because we share a common border with the Republic".

Owners of Irish pubs and restaurants face fines of up to 3,000 euros (2,000) if customers are caught smoking after the habit was outlawed in March.

But Health Minister Lord Warner said the UK government has no plans to ban smoking in enclosed public places.

Falling sales

Instead the government is quizzing people about smoking in public places as part of a major health consultation that will for part of a White Paper later in the year, he said.

However, it would be "monitoring carefully" the Irish experience, he said during question time in the Lords.

The government has consistently said smoke-free places "are the ideal", he added.

Even heavy smokers in Ireland that I have spoken to welcome the ban
Lord Dubs

Lord Dubs said he was "not enthusiastic" about Lord Warner's response.

According to early reports, sales of cigarettes in Ireland have fallen significantly since the ban.

"Even heavy smokers in Ireland that I have spoken to welcome the ban," he said.

'Complacent' attitude

Liberal Democrat Lord Avebury said 4,800 people died each year as a result of passive smoking and around 1,100 beds in London hospitals were taken up with patients suffering from diseases allegedly caused by this.

He accused the minister of taking a "rather complacent" attitude to the problem in view of these "horrifying" statistics.

Lord Warner rejected the charge, adding: "This government has nothing to be ashamed of in the work it has done to reduce the use of tobacco, to control supply, to price tobacco products appropriately and to educate the public about the dangers of smoking."

Tory Earl of Onslow said a smoking ban "would be illiberal".

He said people were "grown-up" enough to know that "smoking is incredibly bad for you, very unpleasant".

But Labour's Baroness Hayman said: "The crucial point is the protection of non-smokers from being harmed by others who choose to harm themselves."

The hunt for the pro-smokers
10 Mar 04  |  Magazine

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