UK government consults public on smoking ban
The British government began public consultation on Monday on proposals for a partial smoking ban in England, a day after it was forced to deny it intends a total workplace ban. Views are being sought on plans to outlaw smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces and on how a ban might operate in licensed premises like bars and restaurants.
Newspapers on Sunday indicated any partial ban would likely become total, but this was denied by health officials. On Monday, the government said it wants anywhere that serves food to be smoke-free but that all other bars and members’ clubs would have the right to choose.
The health department said it intends to introduce smoke-free places through a staged approach.
By the end of next year, all central government departments and the National Health service will be smoke-free and by the end of 2007 so too will be all enclosed public places and workplaces, other than licensed premises, subject to legislation.
The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents three quarters of the country’s doctors, says the plans do not go far enough.
It wants the government to follow the example of Ireland, Norway and other countries that have banned smoking in all restaurants and pubs.
Research suggests second-hand smoke at work may kill more than 600 people each year in Britain.
The Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) said it welcomed the move to seek public opinion.
“The consultation should be fair and open-minded and the government should not be railroaded into a total ban, which is unnecessary and not wanted by the public as a whole,” Tim Lord, chief executive of the TMA, said in a statement.
The consultation period runs until Sept. 5.
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