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Smoking ban proposed for England

National restrictions will outlaw tobacco in almost all workplaces over the next three years, with offenders facing fines of up to £200

The Department of Health has outlined proposals to curb smoking in most enclosed public places, including offices, factories, pubs and restaurants, as well as railway stations, football stadiums and even bus shelters.

The move follows the lead of Ireland, New York and California, where the new laws have already been rolled out. To date, the public in these regions appear generally to have adhered to the new restrictions, though there has been a mixed reaction in sentiment towards them.

However, in England the proposals have been condemned by medical leaders and health campaigners for being `half measures'. The plans include exemptions for private clubs where members have voted to allow smoking, and pubs that do not serve prepared food. Prisons, psychiatric units, care homes and other facilities that accommodate people for long periods of time are also exempt.

Catherine Flint, the Public Health Minister, said: ìThere are people in the medical profession who would prefer an outright banÖ but there should be some consideration that cigarettes are not illegal and there should be some element of choice.î

She added that she expected the majority of smokers to follow the legislation, but that vigorous enforcement would be necessary. Newly outlawed areas will display `No Smoking' signs with a contact number that can be used to report infringements, and enforcement officers will carry out `sting' operations to catch offenders.

ìI don't think we are talking about brigades of people out on the streets,î she said. ìWhat we are talking about is an intelligence-led approach to enforcing the law.î

There will be £200 fines for businesses not displaying warning notices in non-smoking premises; a £200 penalty for managers who fail to prevent a person smoking on their premises; and a £50 fine for individual offenders.

Pubs serving food will have a total ban imposed by the end of 2007, and the majority of workplaces will aim to be smoke-free by 2008. Herbal cigarettes will not be covered by the ban.

2nd September 2008

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