Package tour customers from today will be guaranteed cloudless skies to Torremolinos or the Canaries. From now on 90 per cent of Britain's charter flights, which account for 10 million travellers every year, will have a smoking ban.
In the latest move to show the strength of consumer feeling against tobacco smokers, the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) has persuaded major tour operators, such as Thomsons, Airtours and First Choice, to prohibit smoking on flights of up to six hours. This effectively stops anyone lighting up to any destination in Europe as well as places just outside, such as the Canaries, Egypt, Israel and Turkey.
The aircraft industry's decision to ban smoking follows the example set by trains, buses, coaches and the underground.
High-profile cases such as that of Roy Castle, whose fatal lung cancer was said to have been caused by passive smoking, and Veronica Bland, who won pounds 15,000 compensation after claiming she had contracted her chronic bronchitis at work, have speeded the move towards non-smoking in all public areas.
Alan Flook, secretary general of the FTO, said that the move had come to fruition after four years' work and had been driven by pressure from passengers. "There are more anti-smokers than there are smokers and it was clear more airlines were gradually banning it," he said. "We accepted that there were a lot more people who didn't like travelling with people who are smoking and you can't separate people as you can on a train."
It is expected that after 12 months there will be a review to see if smoking should be banned on all charter flights, regardless of distance.
Charter flights are following the example of scheduled flights. A smoking ban was introduced by British Airways in 1990 on a trial basis, and since then Virgin and United Airlines have also joined in.
Places where you cannot smoke
London Underground: restrictions on smoking came in as early as 1971, but it was only after the King's Cross fire in 1987, where 31 died, that a total ban was imposed.
Coaches: National Express made them smoke-free in 1992.
Transatlantic flights: British Airways started trials of non-smoking transatlantic flights in 1990; Virgin and United Airlines banned smoking completely on such flights earlier this year.
Trains: BR increased accommodation for non-smokers in 1974; banned smoking on commuter trains into London in 1990.
Buses: London buses were made smoke-free in 1991.
Cinemas: Rank Leisure was the first major chain to provide smoke-free cinemas; 1987 Cannon-ABC bans smoking in 1987.
Post Offices: Made smoke-free in 1979.
Hotels: In 1984, Ash (Action on Smoking and Health)produced a guide to 244 hotels and guest houses that are smoke-free. By 1991, there were 1,500 hotels restaurants and pubs.
Restaurants: In 1993, a Mori survey said 51 per cent of people favour a complete ban on smoking in restaurants.
Workplaces: Ash estimates that 80 per cent of large firms now restrict smoking.
Hospitals: St Mary's in Portsmouth and Queen Alexandra in Cosham, are reintroducing designated smoking areas. Birmingham Maternity Hospital will have four designated areas.
Peterborough: Peterborough City Council has overturned a ban on smoking after losing pounds 7,500 in lettings in seven months.
Stafford: The council has also voted against a smoking ban
McDonald's:Two shops at Sidcup and Eltham in south-east London have reintroduced smoking areas.
Taxis: Forest, which advocates freedom of choice in smoking says the majority of black taxi cabs are still "smoker-friendly"
Pubs: Most pubs still allow smoking in all areas.
Japan: No restrictions. It would be a brave airline operator who dared ban smoking in a country where on domestic flights the non-smoking section can consist of rows 58, 59 and 60.