Blair moves closer to UK smoking ban in public places

10 June 2004
Blair moves closer to UK smoking ban in public places
Blair may give local authorities the power to impose a smoking ban
Tony Blair gave his clearest indication yet last week that he may be considering a smoking ban in public places and the workplace. The prime minister suggested that local authorities could be given the power to outlaw smoking in enclosed public spaces in an interview on BBC Breakfast. Blair acknowledged that passive smoking harmed people's health, but added that the decisions on whether to ban it or not should be made at a local level. Blair's comments were at odds with the Government's stance on the issue to date, which have been against imposing a blanket ban on smoking in public spaces. It is also at odds with the latest research, which shows that seven out of 10 people in the UK do not support a ban on smoking in pubs, clubs and bars. The research by independent pollsters Populus was commissioned by pro-smoking lobby Forest to find out what the public thought about proposals for an outright ban on smoking in public places. A total of 10,000 people from eight cities around the UK were interviewed, and 68% said they believed there should be separate smoking and non-smoking areas. (Most favoured non-smoking as standard, with separate smoking areas). Less than a quarter of the sample believed smoking should be completely banned in all pubs, bars and clubs, while two-thirds felt decisions on smoking policy should be left to owners and managers, rather than local or central government. Forest's research was backed up by an ICM survey that showed 38% of pub regulars and 17% of non-smokers would travel to a pub that allowed smoking if some councils chose to ban smoking. But catering and bar staff from the T&G Union voted earlier this week (7 June) in favour of an outright ban on smoking in bars, pubs, clubs and restaurants. Government plans for smoking are expected to be outlined in July, when it publishes a White Paper on public health.
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