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Smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces has been illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2007. Scotland was the first UK jurisdiction to go smokefree a year earlier in 2006. Since implementation, the smokefree law has had majority support from the public. A YouGov poll conducted in March 2012 found that overall 78% of adults in Great Britain supported the smokefree legislation while only 12% opposed it. Contrary to industry predictions, there is no objective evidence that the hospitality industry overall has suffered as a result of the smokefree legislation and a recent (2012) survey found that one-fifth of customers visit pubs more frequently as a result of the 2007 smokefree law. (Source: Market Force, June 2012)

Key Findings:
  • Around 8 out of 10 people are in favour of smokefree legislation
  • Support among daily smokers has doubled since the law was introduced and for every four smokers who oppose the law there are five who support it.
  • Despite claims to the contrary, there is no evidence of overall harm to the licensed trade with the alcohol "on sales" licenses increasing by 5% in the first year of the law.
  • Research shows that the law resulted in a 2.4% drop in the number of heart attacks in England with 12,000 fewer admissions to hospitals, saving the NHS £8.4 million in the first year alone.

Going smokefree has delivered measurable health benefits. For further information see the Government commissioned report: Impact of smokefree legislation: evidence review. March 2011

Despite the high level of public support for smokefree places the tobacco industry continues to lobby for the law to be amended to bring back smoking in pubs. A small number of MPs signed an Early Day Motion (a kind of petition for MPs) to bring back smoking into England's pubs.

Click here to visit the parliament website and see which MPs have signed so you can write to them and tell them what you think.

For further information on the smokefree campaign and impact see the archives section of this website (link on the left-hand menu).

Smoking in homes and cars

Although the smokefree law has brought unquestionable health benefits, some people are still exposed to secondhand smoke, particularly in the home and in private vehicles. This has become the main focus for current campaigns aimed at minimising exposure to other people's tobacco smoke.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health held an inquiry into the issue of smoking in cars in 2011. The findings are published in the report and summary (pdfs)

In March 2012, the Department of Health launched a mass media campaign to show that the only way to protect people from secondhand smoke is to make homes and cars entirely smokefree.

The British Lung Foundation has been actively campaigning to build support for smokefree cars and has supported Lord Ribeiro in his Bill to ban smoking in cars when children are present. The bill received its Second Reading on 29th June 2012 (source)

Other resources (pdfs):
ASH Fact sheet: Smoking in cars
ASH Fact sheet: Secondhand smoke in the home



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