Most MPs want ban on public smoking

A ban on smoking in public places, including pubs and shopping centres, is supported by a majority of MPs.

A ban on smoking in public places, including pubs and shopping centres, is supported by a majority of MPs.

The research, carried out for The Independent on Sunday, comes on the eve of a key meeting of senior ministers to discuss the proposed ban.

John Reid, the Secretary of State for Health, has less than a month to rule on whether legislation enabling local authorities to prohibit smoking in public places should go ahead. He is expected to signal his scepticism over the proposal this week, but officials insist the option is still under active consideration.

The cabinet committee set up to approve a White Paper on measures to improve public health meets in the coming days as the decision comes to a head. The other key issue yet to be resolved is whether junk food advertising should be banned on children's television. Mr Reid has already indicated that he wants to clamp down on the industry, saying that children cannot be expected to make informed choices about their lifestyle.

He is nervous, however, about proposals for a smoking ban, calling it a "middle-class obsession".

Polling by CommunicateResearch for the IoS suggests a ban would command support among most MPs. A sample of 154 MPs showed that Labour members are more keen on prohibition than Tories. While 88 per cent of Labour MPs support a ban in restaurants, just 65 per cent do so in pubs. But banning smoking in taxis is the most popular move among MPs of all parties.

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