On July the 1st there will be an all-out ban on smoking public places in England.
The basic premise behind the new law is to protect employees and the public from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke.
For full details on how this will affect people in England please visit the Smoke Free England website. In the meantime here are the key points to remember:
- From 1 July 2007 it will be against the law to smoke in virtually all enclosed and substantially enclosed public places and workplaces.
- Public transport and work vehicles used by more than one person will also need to be smokefree.
- No-smoking signs will have to be displayed in all smokefree premises and vehicles.
- Staff smoking rooms and indoor smoking areas will no longer be allowed, so anyone who wants to smoke will have to go outside.
- Managers of smokefree premises and vehicles will have legal responsibilities to prevent people from smoking.
- If you are uncertain where you can or can’t smoke, just look for the no-smoking signs or ask someone in charge.
I am a non-smoker and am understandably very pleased to see the legislation introduced. There is nothing worse than having another person’s smoke inflicted on you especially in a restaurant environment.
It is interesting to note that no matter how long you know someone and how close you are to them it is still very difficult to ask that person to refrain from smoking. By the same token it does surprise me when people light up without asking for permission.
Curiously, even when asked, many will still still say: ‘Yeah fine, go ahead.’ when secretly they hate it.
This says something very interesting about people that they will allow this to happen and yet they will complain and feel victimised when the smoker concerned is out of ear-shot.
Some statistics and data
Personally I am amazed that this law ever got passed in the first place. I guess it had to happen sooner or later but considering the revenues generated by tax on smokers it’s still surprising it happened so quickly. However, if we compare these figures with those needed to treat smoke related illnesses it is, if we’re honest, a bit of a no brainer.
In the US alone for every packet of cigarettes you can add $8.00 that society pays for medical and lost productivity costs. A total of $3780 each year is attributed to every single smoker in the country equating to $160 billion in smoking health-related costs.
In 2005 $13 billion from tobacco taxes contributed to US state budgets but with 2.8 billion fewer packs being smoked compared to a decade earlier governments’ are having to rethink how they fund national and local community services.
Perhaps the most staggering statistic is that while 6 million people died during the 5 year Jewish Holocaust over 15 million people died worldwide from the effects of smoking over the same time period.
There is some good news because that certainly in the West the message is starting to get through. In Australia for instance a quarter of all adults smoked in 1993 which was slashed to 17% just 12 years later. There’s still a long way to go but it’s a start.
‘What about those who still want to smoke?’
In Peterborough there has been a rush for planning permission to build outside shelters for smokers. It is perhaps for the landlords I feel most sorry for here because this affects their livelihoods so in addition to losing customers they have the extra expense of trying to keep them catered for with covered areas outside.
However, while you would expect an initial dip in custom you would also expect, conversely, to attract a whole new audience of non-smokers.
Overall, while you would expect reaction to be mixed to the ban, it has to be a good thing. If it encourages those to give up the habit it is not only good for health but good for their pocket too.
A Politcal Issue
The reluctance to pass legislation like this from a political standpoint is down to the risk of alienating millions of potential voters.
With next election in the UK likely to much closer than those of recent years the Labour governement which surely be watching very closely the mood of the nation post July 1st.
Are you smoker? What do you think of the new legislation? Will it encourage you to give up? Post your comments below.
UPDATE: 27/06/2007 – The latest research results published on the Smoke Free England website suggests awareness of the new legislation is rising rapidly. A public omnibus survey conducted by ICM Research for the Department of Health in April showed that 93 per cent of adults in the 1700 person study are now aware that smokefree legislation is coming. That is a rise from 89% in February. There was also a high levels of awareness of the 1st July implementation date with 55 per cent knowing unprompted compared to 33 per cent in February.
Further research conducted by Continental Research for DH in April/May 2007 shows that 89 per cent of businesses in England are now aware that smokefree legislation is coming (up from 77 per cent in February) with 68 per cent unprompted awareness of the July 1st date (up from 44 per cent in February). Nine out of ten businesses think that they are prepared for the new smokefree law (vs 70% in February) and 88 per cent of businesses say there is nothing about the legislation they feel ‘confused or worried about’. This rose to 91 per cent among pubs.