City votes to become first in UK to ban pub smoking

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The Independent Online

Liverpool was poised to follow in the footsteps of Ireland and New York last night after councillors voted for the city to become the first in Britain to ban smoking in public.

Liverpool was poised to follow in the footsteps of Ireland and New York last night after councillors voted for the city to become the first in Britain to ban smoking in public.

Council leaders voted to demand legislation that would enable them to outlaw smoking in all public places. Such a law would enable the council to fine offenders or companies flouting the ban up to £1,000.

Liverpool has one of the worst death rates from cancer in the UK, with more than 1,000 people dying in the city every year from smoking-related diseases. Of these, 100 were thought to be caused by passive smoking, according to figures released by the council.

"Liverpool is the lung cancer capital of the United Kingdom," said Richard Oglethorpe, the city council's executive member for green issues. "Most smokers want to give up and the place where they find it hardest to give up is when you go into a bar, you've had a few drinks and everyone else is smoking. Introducing the smoking ban will help people give up," he said.

The next step for the council was to petition Parliament to enact its Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work Bill into law.

If the Bill is to become law within a year, councillors will need to petition Parliament before 27 November so that it can be introduced in time for the next legislative session.

The outcome of the vote was welcomed by anti-smoking groups, including Smoke Free Liverpool, a partnership which includes health groups, the city council, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce, the North West Trades Union Congress and the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

A spokesman for Ash, the anti-smoking group, said: "We are delighted Liverpool council has taken such a proactive approach. We would also like the Government to announce there will be national legislation to ban smoking in all public places."

However, critics questioned Liverpool's tactics. Andrew Lansley, the shadow Health Secretary, said: "The best route to giving people a smoke-free environment is through a self-regulatory solution agreed with the industry.

"If that cannot be delivered then targeted legislation may be necessary, but ad hoc initiatives by local authorities is, in my view, the least helpful way of seeking to tackle this issue," Mr Lansley added.

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