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
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor