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Areas around schools, pubs and restaurants must be smoke-free, says RSPH

Smoking around schools, and outside pubs and restaurants should be made illegal, to protect children and stop smoking from being seen as a “normal or safe activity,” the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has said today.

As the leading cause of preventable illness and death in the UK, smoking kills an estimated 100,000 people each year, more than the next five largest causes of preventable death combined.

The RSPH is calling for the government to introduce “smoking exclusion zones”, and for the smoking ban to be extended further “to include school gates, the outside areas of bars and restaurants and also, all public parks and squares,” they said in todays report, Stopping Smoking by Using Other Sources of Nicotine.

The report said: “This would significantly reduce the convenience of smoking… It would also reduce the visibility of cigarette usage and serve to further de-normalise smoking,thus potentially discouraging people, particularly children, from beginning to smoke in the future.”

The smoking ban has already been extended in Bristol. In 2015, with a public approval rating of 61%, Bristol became the first UK city to prohibit smoking in prominent outdoor spaces.

The RSPH is also calling for e-cigarettes to be renamed as vapourisers or nicotine control products, as there is “significant misunderstanding surrounding nicotine” and research to date indicates that inhaling e-cigarette vapour is significantly less harmful to the user than smoking tobacco.

They also recommend the mandatory sale of e-cigarettes in all outlets selling regular cigarettes, and want commissioners and smoking cessation services to consider trialling an 'e-cigarette friendly' approach.

Finally, any retailer who is not enforcing age restrictions (it is illegal for those under 18 to buy cigarettes) or the display ban (it is illegal to display tobacco products, they should be stored and covered but accessible), should have their licence removed, the organisation said.