Page last updated at 07:19 GMT, Wednesday, 2 April 2008 08:19 UK

80 penalties given in smoking ban

The smoking ban was introduced in Wales on 2 April 2007
The smoking ban was introduced in Wales on 2 April 2007

Seventy nine people and one business have been penalised for flouting the smoking ban in the year since it was introduced in Wales, figures show.

The ban made it illegal to smoke inside public buildings and some pub landlords say it has affected trade and warn of closures.

But the chief medical officer for Wales described the ban as a "milestone for public health".

And the assembly government says more people are giving up smoking.

It also said there was an increase in public support for the ban with few complaints received in the 12 months since the ban was introduced.

It said public support has risen to 84%, from 71% at the time of the ban's introduction.

Wales introduced the ban after Scotland and the Republic of Ireland, followed later by England and Northern Ireland.

But its long term goal is to improve the nation's health.

About 6,000 people are currently estimated to die through smoking in Wales every year.

The assembly government said it expected its ban to have a similar impact to Scotland's, introduced in March 2006, where hospitals saw a reduction in heart attacks during the first year.

Wales' chief medical officer Dr Tony Jewell said: "The introduction of the smoking ban in enclosed public places has been a milestone for public health and the single most important measure that the Welsh Assembly Government could take to improve the health of the nation and reduce health inequalities."

Stop Smoking Wales' figures show that 2,730 people who took part in one of their support programmes have given up smoking since the smoking ban.

Some 6,000 people die from smoking each year
It may account for eight in 10 deaths from lung cancer, three in four from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and one in five from heart disease
On average, smokers die about 10 years younger
25% of adults smoke - 27% of men and 24% of women
Treating smoking costs the NHS across the UK 1.5bn a year
Source: Welsh Assembly Government

Research carried out in Wales since smoking was made illegal in public buildings also showed air quality in those establishments had improved.

Some pubs, however, say the smoking ban has been bad for business.

John Price, Welsh secretary of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations (FLVA), said 17 pubs and three clubs in the south Wales valleys had closed in the last year.

He is collecting figures for pubs in other areas of Wales in the coming weeks but expects the results to be similar all over.

"My trade has gone down by 40%," said Mr Price, who runs the Bush Hotel in Clydach Vale and the Clydach Vale Hotel in Tonypandy, Rhondda.

"I've lost my elderly regulars. They buy in their drink from the supermarket and stay in front of the television. You can't expect the elderly to go outside in the cold to smoke.

Lorry driving

"There will be more closures. I spoke to one of the pubs at a meeting and he had only taken 50 in two days. He hadn't taken enough to pay his bar staff.

"My own pub the Clydach Vale Hotel now closes every Tuesday and Wednesday because there's just not enough trade.

"It's the rural pubs that rely on their regulars that are suffering. We don't have passing trade like in the cities."

Landlord Brian Jones has sold his pub - the Rose and Crown in Merthyr Tydfil - after a 40% slump in his takings.

"We've really felt it," said Mr Jones, who is going back to lorry driving after eight years of running his pub.

"People just stay at home now where they can smoke. Business has not improved at all, despite me spending 1,500 on a lovely smoking shelter.

"Before the ban, we were always busy - even during the day. Now the pub's really empty."

video and audio news
Hear people's reactions a year after the smoking ban.

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