It is five years since England became the last part of the UK to introduce legislation banning smoking in workplaces and enclosed public spaces. The sight of people smoking outdoors in all weathers is now commonplace, smoking areas in bars, pubs, restaurants and hotels are long gone, but has it actually reduced the number of people smoking?
Scotland was the first country in the UK to introduce a smoke free law in March 2006 with England’s smoke free laws coming into force on 1 July 2007, with Northern Ireland on 30 April 2007 and Wales on 2 April 2007.
So what has been the impact of the legislation on our health?
The ban was popular with British adults when it was implemented – and a recent poll of more than 12,000 people found that 78% of adults still support it. Evidence suggests that the benefits for employees in the leisure industry have been greatest – passive smoking was a major issue within that sector. Also it appears that the effect on smoking around children at home has been considered more by parents – and this has declined by almost 70% over the period.
So a positive piece of legislation, I still find it bizarre going into a crowded pub on a weekend and not coming out smelling of smoke – it was a part of our lives that we took for granted but will not be missed!
Moves are afoot to try to pass legislation to make smoking illegal in cars and private areas when around children – some would say this goes against our civil liberties, but I have to say I would back this fully. It has been debated in the Lords, but is unlikely to see the statute book in the near future.
Having seen the effects of smoking on close family I cannot accept the ‘its my body’ argument, smoking kills and we ban things that do that normally – so why is smoking still a major pastime? Could it be due to the tax that it makes for the Government?