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Indoor smoking ban

Smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces has been illegal in England, Wales and Northern Ireland since 2007 and in Scotland since 2006. This has resulted in significant improvements in public health, particularly for children and led to changes in behaviour and attitudes towards smoking.

Smokefree laws have been extremely successful and popular, including among smokers. A YouGov survey commissioned by ASH in 2014, found that 82% of adults in Great Britain support smokefree laws. This includes 54% of smokers. Only 8% of adults oppose the laws.

Not only is smokefree legislation supported by the public, but it has resulted in significant health benefits. It has also led to changes in behaviour and attitudes towards smoking.

Positive outcomes

Some of the positive outcomes of smokefree legislation include the below.

  • In the year following the introduction of smokefree laws there was a 2.4% reduction in hospital admissions for heart attacks in England. This resulted in 12,000 fewer admissions to hospitals and saved the NHS £8.4 million in the first year alone. For further information see the Government commissioned report: Impact of smokefree legislation: evidence review (pdf).
  • In the year following the implementation of smokefree laws there was also a 12.3% reduction in hospital admissions for childhood asthma, equivalent of 6803 fewer admissions over three years. For further information see: Hospital admissions for childhood asthma after smoke-free legislation in England.
    Research also links smoking bans with a reduction in numbers of preterm births. For further information read the Effect of smoke-free legislation on perinatal and child health: a systematic review and meta-analysis.
  • In addition to support for the smokefree laws, people are less willing to expose themselves and their families to smoke in private dwellings. In 2009 78% of respondents to a YouGov survey, commissioned by ASH, did not allow smoking anywhere in their home, or only in areas which were not enclosed. By 2014 this had increased to 86% of respondents.

Following an active campaign by the British Lung Foundation, in July 2014 the Government announced a consultation on draft regulations to prohibit smoking in cars when children are present. This measure is supported amongst the general public: a 2014 survey commissioned by ASH found that 77% of respondents supported a ban on smoking in cars with children.

Despite public and cross party support for maintaining and extending smokefree places, the tobacco industry and a small number of MPs have attempted to lobby for amendments to the law, particularly to bring back smoking in pubs. However, there is no objective evidence to suggest that there is any public for this or that the hospitality industry has suffered as a result of smokefree laws.

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.

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