Briefing: England prepares for the smoking ban

It's out with the ashtrays and in with fresh air, but hardened addicts will puff their way through the final week of freedom at last-ditch 'smoke-ins'


Why is smoking in public being banned?

Medical experts agree that secondhand smoke kills and that there is no safe level of exposure. The growing concerns over the health risks of passive smoking, which accounts for more than 12,000 deaths in the UK each year, are behind the ban on smoking in public places, which comes into effect from 6am next Sunday.

Next week it will be illegal to smoke in almost all enclosed public spaces across England - including workplaces such as pubs, cinemas, offices, factories and public transport. Outdoor smoking shelters will need to have at least half the area open to the elements to avoid being termed an enclosed space. Anyone wanting to report smokers breaking the law will be able to call a freephone hotline, 0800 587 1667.

Ninety-five per cent of people are aware of the new law, and it has the support of more than 70 per cent of regular pub-goers, according to a new Department of Health survey.

Are there any loopholes?

People will still be allowed to smoke outside and at home. This will include parts of residential care homes, barracks, psychiatric hospitals and prisons. Hotel guests can light up if they book into a smoking room. And performers will be able to smoke if it is necessary for "artistic integrity". The Commons and Lords have committed to going smoke free from 1 July.

Doomsday predictions of the effects on business have yet to materialise; restaurants and pubs are gearing up for a surge in non-smoking customers.

How will it be policed?

There'll be a softly-softly approach. Most local authorities have only recruited a few temporary staff to deal with the ban; the Government hopes it will be self-regulated. Smokers who defy the banface a fine of up to £200. Businesses that fail to display no-smoking signs or that turn a blind eye could be fined £2,500. Ironically, Cherie Blair has been hired to help a London nightclub owner fight the ban in the courts.

Anti-smoking campaigners claim four million smokers will use the ban to try to quit, but the Department of Health estimates that less than 10 per cent of England's 10 million smokers will give up. Each year, smoking causes more than 100,000 deaths in the UK and costs the NHS about £1.7bn.

How are smokers celebrating their last week of freedom?

A number of "smoke-ins" will take place - with a "Revolt in Style" smoking dinner organised by smoking group Forest at the Savoy in London tomorrow. In contrast, Smokefree England is running events to welcome the ban.

Where else has smoking been banned?

England will be the last part of the UK to bring in a smoking ban, following Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Smoking has also been banned in a number of public places in countries such as Ireland, New Zealand and Norway, as well as parts of Australia, Canada and the United States.

What's next?

Smokers will be prevented from fostering young children under new guidelines to be published on the day the smoking ban comes into force. Employers are encouraged to give people time off to go to stop-smoking clinics. Many local authorities no longer allow staff to have cigarette breaks and Liverpool City Council is threatening to boycott smokers who refuse to stop smoking during home visits from council staff.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
News
Keith Fraser says we should give Isis sympathises free flights to join Isis (AFP)
news
Life and Style
'Prison Architect' players decide the fate of inmates
tech
Life and Style
A picture taken on February 11, 2014 at people walking at sunrise on the Trocadero Esplanade, also known as the Parvis des droits de l'homme (Parvis of Human Rights), in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor