Jeremy Laurance: Public opinion backs greater restrictions

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The Independent Online

The ban on smoking in enclosed public places, introduced in England in 2007, won almost immediate public support. Since then, there has been a strong and growing view that smoke-free legislation is "good for people's health". Nine out of 10 agreed with this statement when surveyed last year and only 3 per cent disagreed. It is findings like these that have emboldened doctors to push the ban a stage further.

Intriguingly much of the increased support has come from smokers themselves. The ban has also had an effect on smoking in people's homes – the proportion saying smoking was not allowed in their homes rose from 61 per cent to 78 per cent from 2006-9. Almost half (47 per cent) said they did not allow it outside in gardens either.

On smoking in cars a survey for the BBC in 2007 showed 62 per cent felt there should be a ban. A 2009 Yougov survey also demonstrated majority support and an international review showed high levels of support for a ban. In the 2009 Yougov survey 70 per cent said smoking was banned in their car at all times and only 8 per cent said it was allowed at any time.

Despite the protests from libertarians, doctors believe they are going with public opinion in demanding more restrictions on tobacco.