Health

Call for pub garden smoking ban

Drinking outside Image copyright Thinkstock

The public smoking ban should be extended to beer gardens, al fresco eating areas of restaurants, parks, and outside school gates, a report says.

The Royal Society for Public Health said smoking should be seen as "abnormal" and more controls are needed to cover areas where people gather.

Its report said people needing a fix of nicotine should use e-cigarettes.

The pro-smoking campaign group Forest said the measures would not work and may lead to pubs closing.

The Society argued the 2007 smoking ban inside public places had been a huge success and encouraged thousands to quit.

Its report calls for the ban "to be extended further to include school gates, the outside areas of bars and restaurants and all public parks and squares".

Unlike the original smoking ban the focus is no longer on the dangers of second-hand smoke.

Shirley Cramer, the body's chief executive, said: "Children are hugely receptive to the behaviour of the adults around them. The sight therefore of individuals smoking at prominent locations risks teaching them that smoking is a normal and safe habit.

"We believe that banning smoking in these locations via an exclusion zone could further denormalise smoking, ensuring that it is seen as an abnormal activity and potentially, prevent children and young people from beginning in the future."

The organisation also called for:

  • All places selling cigarettes to be forced to also offer e-cigarettes
  • Greater use of e-cigarettes by smoking cessation services
  • A new system to license places that can sell cigarettes
  • And for e-cigarettes to be renamed vapourisers or nicotine control products as the term was misleading

Meanwhile a separate report by the University of Edinburgh suggested 1,500 stillbirths were prevented in the first four years of the smoking ban.

Smoking limits the about of oxygen going to the baby and limits growth.


Analysis

Image copyright Thinkstock

By James Gallagher, health editor, BBC News website

This report opens a new frontline in the battle against smoking.

Campaigners have already scored big victories with the original smoking ban and again this year with a ban on smoking in cars with children and standardised packaging for cigarettes.

Now the target is public places.

Brighton is already considering banning smoking on the beach and Bristol is trialling smoking bans in city squares

The rights of smokers are clearly in decline and leaves the question - where will it end?


Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said he welcomed ideas that encouraged people to use electronic cigarettes but they should not rely on "coercion and prohibition".

He told the BBC: "Banning smoking outside pubs and bars will discriminate against adults who quite legitimately prefer to smoke.

"It won't stop people smoking, it will simply deter more people from going to the pub and that could lead to even more pub closures."

He said renaming e-cigarettes was a "silly idea" that "ignores the fact that e-cigs are popular because they mimic the act of smoking".

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