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Last Updated: Tuesday, 10 May, 2005, 14:27 GMT 15:27 UK
AMs urged to pursue smoking ban
Cigarette stub
The committee was set up in June 2004 to discuss a smoking ban
The Welsh assembly should press for powers to ban smoking in public places in the next two to three years, a committee of AMs has recommended.

The members heard evidence from both sides of the debate, including the British Medical Association and the Licensed Victuallers' Association.

They also visited Ireland to see the effects of its smoking ban.

The assembly does not have the power to ban smoking in public at present, but voted in favour of one in 2003.

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

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

The British Thoracic Society has welcomed the assembly committee's call.

On Tuesday, the assembly committee on smoking in public places concluded that:

  • There is overwhelming evidence that environmental tobacco smoke is damaging to health.

  • Ventilation equipment is not capable of removing the majority of health damaging particulates from the atmosphere.

  • There is no evidence that the introduction of a ban would have an overall negative impact on the economy.

  • While acknowledging the right of people to smoke a product that is obtainable legally, this right should be exercised responsibly. The majority of the public who do not smoke should be able to go to their place of work and other enclosed public places without risk to their health.

    The cross-party committee recommended that a smoking ban would be enforced by local authorities, although it did not estimate its cost.

    Smoking committee members
    Val Lloyd (chair)
    Peter Black
    Jeff Cuthbert
    Dai Lloyd
    Jonathan Morgan

    In Ireland, the committee said that enforcement measures equated to 40 new jobs for enforcement officers. The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) has estimated the cost as around 6m over the first two years.

    It also advised that exceptions to the ban would include private dwellings, designated areas in long-stay hospital units, designated areas in residential and nursing homes and designated areas of prisons.

    Committee chair Val Lloyd said its recommendations "could have a significant impact on the health of the people of Wales".

    'Harmful effects

    Dr Richard Lewis, the Welsh Secretary of the BMA said it was "a landmark day for health professionals".

    "We shall now be concentrating our efforts on persuading Welsh MPs to vote for the clause in the English Public Health Bill that will allow the National Assembly to ban smoking in public places," he said.

    Dr Ian Campbell of the British Thoracic Society said the assembly committee's conclusions were "based on solid medical evidence showing the harmful effects of passive smoking".

    He said: "A total ban on smoking in public places is a major move forward for Welsh lung health."

    The pro-smoking group, Forest, said calls for a ban were not based on "incontrovertible scientific evidence of harm to others", and that evidence about passive smoking was "estimates, guesswork, subjective recollections and even gossip".

    Calling time on pub smoking?
    09 Jun 04 |  Wales
    Figures reveal smoke death toll
    05 Mar 05 |  Scotland

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