Spitting ban bids to turn back the clock


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A council is attempting to outlaw spitting in public little more than 20 years after a national ban on the practice was lifted.

Enfield Council has notified Justice Secretary Ken Clarke that it wants to be allowed to introduce a local ban on the "disgusting habit" that would be enforced by officials such as litter wardens and parking attendants.

Until 1990, spitting in public places was a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £5, a relic of a time when the practice was believed to help spread tuberculosis. 'Spitting Prohibited' signs were common on buses from the 1940s.

Chris Bond, the north London council's cabinet member for the environment, said: "It's a disgusting, anti-social habit which can spread germs."

The authority has launched a poster campaign aimed at persuading people not to spit and hopes to raise the 2,750 petition signatures it requires to demonstrate to the Government the strength of feeling on the issue in the borough.

Mr Bond added: "I have already received messages from people, not only in Enfield but all over the country, who want to see spitting banned."

Spitting is now not thought likely to have played a significant part in the spread of disease.

If spat out, bacteria are much more likely to be washed away by rain or killed by sunlight than inhaled by other people.