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Last Updated: Thursday, 27 October 2005, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Wales wins smoking ban power
Cigarette
It is thought Wales will go further with its smoking ban
The UK Government has unveiled plans to give the Welsh assembly the power to ban smoking in public places.

The move on Thursday marks the first time since devolution that Westminster has given the assembly such wide-ranging powers.

Wales is expected to go further than by implementing and outright ban in public places.

In England, however, private clubs and non-food pubs could continue to allow people to smoke.

Following days of delay and controversy, the UK Government's Health Improvement Bill has finally gone through.

Bill delayed

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has defended the plans for a partial ban on smoking in public places in England.

While saying "many of us would liked to have gone further, Ms Hewitt said the plans would mean 99% of workplaces would be smoke-free.

The fact private clubs and non-food pubs could continue to allow smoking should not detract from the positive measures in the bill, she said.

The bill had been due to be published on Wednesday, but after agreement could not be reached on Tuesday, it was put back by at least 24 hours.

The ban is likely to be introduced in 2007 - earlier than originally expected - when smokers who defy the new law could face on-the-spot fines.

Welsh Health Minister Brian Gibbons said it would help save thousands of lives in Wales.

Speaking on Thursday, he said: "The Welsh Assembly Government has already indicated its intention to implement a comprehensive ban on smoking in public places and workplaces in Wales, as set out in my Cabinet Statement in July.

"A cross-party assembly committee has put forward its recommendations for how a ban could be implemented in Wales which was backed overwhelmingly in the National Assembly. This shows the support such a move has in Wales.

"Once the Bill has received Royal Assent we will consult on draft regulations for Wales at the earliest opportunity. This will allow all interested parties to give their views on the best way to implement a ban."

Two Welsh politicians, Cardiff North MP Julie Morgan and the cross-bench peer Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, had already put smoking bills for Wales before the Commons and the Lords.

Although neither bill succeeded, both aimed to change the law to give the assembly the power to bring in its own smoking ban if it wished.


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