Smoking ban in England comes into force

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Smoking is now against the law in enclosed public places in England

A ban on smoking in enclosed public places in England is in effect as of 0600 BST today, bringing the country into line with similar laws already introduced in other parts of the United Kingdom.

The aims of the ban are to reduce the risks associated with passive smoking and to reduce the number of smokers overall. The government estimates that 600,000 of the 10 million smokers in Britain will give up as a result.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson welcomes the ban, saying that "A smoke-free country will improve the health of thousands of people, reduce the temptation to smoke, and encourage smokers to quit."

The ban is not being welcomed by all citizens, however. Activist group Freedom To Choose is challenging the law at the High Court saying it is in violation of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The business community is expressing concerns about the impact on pubs and similar establishments. Research by Nielsen estimates that the sale of beer in England and Wales could fall by 200 million pints yearly. However, a survey by the Campaign for Real Ale suggests 840,000 people who do not regularly go to the pub would do so following the introduction of the ban and that England's 6.2 million regular drinkers would be more likely to visit pubs and bars.

Smoking kills 100,000 people in Britain each year through cancer, lung conditions, and heart problems. Approximately 1,000 people a day in England are admitted to hospital with an illness related to smoking, costing the National Health Service an estimated £1.5 billion.

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