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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 October 2005, 19:12 GMT 20:12 UK
Total smoking ban 'in 10 years'
Smoking in pub
Areas outside England are planning complete smoking bans
A complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places could be introduced in England within a decade, Scotland's former health minister has predicted.

The partial ban proposed by the government - excluding private clubs and pubs which do not serve food - would be temporary, said Sam Galbraith.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said ministers only disagreed about "1%" of the anti-smoking policy.

She said the Cabinet disagreement did not "matter a damn" to the public.

Total bans are in force or due in the rest of the UK and the Irish Republic.

Mr Galbraith, who introduced the bill to ban smoking in public places in Scotland, said he thought the partial ban in England was "just a stage towards a total ban".

'Patronising'

After debate within Cabinet, it was decided that smoking could continue in English pubs that do not serve food, and in private members' clubs.

Mr Galbraith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the ban was "patronising" towards poorer people because places that will allow smoking will generally be in disadvantaged areas.

"It is the equivalent of getting a new vaccine for avian flu but saying we are only going to give it to the middle class but you in the working class, in the poorer areas, you're not going to get it because your life is not quite worth so much," he said.

Critics and health experts have also said plans to exempt private clubs and non-food pubs from the ban are bad for health and will prove unworkable.

However, Ms Hewitt has defended the partial plan, saying "many of us would have liked to have gone further and faster" but stressed that even with exemptions 99% of workplaces would be smoke-free.

She told BBC Radio 4's PM programme on Saturday that ministers had disagreed over just "1%" of the policy.

"We had a disagreement in government, just as there is disagreement in the public about this very specific issue of smoking in pubs that don't serve food," she said.

She said the press had got "frightfully excited" about a disagreement on "1% of the policy".

"None of it actually matters a damn to the public," she said.

The minister said not a single person had raised the issue with her at a major health conference in Birmingham on Saturday.


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