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Figures reveal smoking ban success

Practice nurses will hope that more people give up smoking as figures show the ban on lighting up in enclosed places is being enforced in England.

Department of Health statistics show that during the first month of the new law, which came into force on 1 July, 97.4% of premises and vehicles were "compliant".

Yorkshire and Humberside, and the South West, had the lowest compliance rate at 95.7%, while London had the highest with 99%.

Only one person has been summonsed to court for breaching the law, although a total of 312 written warnings have been issued by local authorities over failures to prevent smoking.

But the figures do show premises and vehicles need to better understand the requirements on displaying no-smoking signs.

Overall, 126,290 of the 154,550 sites and vehicles inspected (81.7%) complied with the sign legislation, with the figure higher towards the end of July as workplaces realised they needed to put up appropriate warnings.

Martin Dockrell, policy manager at campaign group Ash, said: "These are exceptionally high figures and we are very encouraged by them.

"We knew from opinion polls that the English population supported this, and that was before it came into force.

"Now we can see that support being put into practice."

Department of Health

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"I too feel that it is sad that health professionals are bemoaning the smoking ban in public places, as per some of the comments made. What about my choice to not have to inhale cigarette smoke and therefore have my health put at risk? What about my choice to not have to go home stinking of cigarette smoke? People haven't been banned from smoking - just banned from smoking in places where it will adversely affect the health of others. What can possibly be wrong with that? I work with nurses who smoke who do not have a problem with the ban at all. And the mention of other problems that might need addressing - I'm not going to have my health affected by someone else being obese" - Name and address supplied

"I think its fab and has overly encouraged people to stop it certainly did me" - Name and address supplied

"I'm not sure what effective technology Mr Sherrington has in mind? (see comment below). The fact is there is no effective technology. Maybe the research of James Repace should be given more publicity. From his research (and evidence) he says that only "tornado-strength" ventilation would make any difference to the fine particulate matter in the atmosphere of a smoky environment. These are the components which harm. Some of the previous comments reflect the bleatings of the poor victimised smoker that the media has concentrated on in the months preceding the smokefree legislation. In future, smoking in public will be regarded in the same light as drink-driving and spitting in public. We are not the only country to introduce this long overdue public health initiative. Incidentally, I'm really enjoying going to places that would have previously beenunthinkable because of the smoke" - Name and address supplied

"Ms Percival. I believe that you will find that the 'silent majority' has expressed an opinion and it was for choice. The 2004 survey from the Office for National Statistics show that  68% were not in favour of a total smoking ban in pubs and bars. The ONS in 2006 published figures of 33% supporting a total ban. That's 67% FOR choice. I find it incredulous that people choose not to accept these figures and toe the party line. Now, I fully understand that people may not like the habit but it is legal. It also brings in a lot of tax revenue. A lot more than that which is spent on smoking related illnesses. So when everyone gives up we''ll then have to replace that revenue. A tax on cheese, milk and lard should be good for a start, not forgetting wine and beer because we want to stop binge drinking don''t we? By all means have no smoking, panini serving, wine bars. But lets keep the local back street pub too. Let landlords choose which punters he or she wants to attract. Let punters have a choice too" - Name and address supplied

"In reply to Jennifer Percival comments. As a regular pub goer I have seen no evidence that non-smokers are suddenly flocking to pubs. Quite the opposite, which for many will mean the end of any form of social life. I find it incredulous to think that she believes the government give a damn about our health other than in financial terms. If it did it would address much more obvious targets like financial disparity that leads to poverty, an insidious but never the less alive and well slave trade (what do you think recent import of cheap manual workers are about?), the litter and filth and vermin on our streets, obesity and junk food promoted by supermarkets etc. The real point here is choice and this so-called government of choice actually gives us little. All publicans have always had the choice to put up no smoking signs throughout their history but haven't, let them choose now and let us use the technology available to protect staff that have to work in such places, although they too mostly have choice. So I say to you Ms Percival think, don't just quote propaganda. I am not defending smoking as it is indefensible as a harmful habit but I am defending choice" - Mr Kim Sherrington

"How very sad to see some nurses holding the beliefs expressed below. I guess the problem here is the minority of people who don't like the changes in the legislation have more reasons to shout and complain than the vast majority people who are now able to socialise in a smoke free atmosphere. The 'silent' majority are very happy with the ban and are proving this by returning to pubs and clubs in great numbers, a fact endorsed by the pub trade magazines. A responsible Government acts to protect the health of the population - and restricting the sale of cigs to over 18s is next, soon to be followed by graphic picture warnings, there's no going back. Every vice has its champions who argue for the status quo to be maintained. It was the same with the slave trade and opium dens of Victorian London - Jennifer Percival, RCN tobacco policy advisor

"It frightens me that as an NHS nurse to find this world has equally invaded health care and that so many of my colleagues (even the so-called erudite ones) swallow so readily government propaganda. My greatest source of pleasure and stress relief is a simple hour in a pub talking (remember this?) having a beer and a fag, a simple pleasure now spoilt. I see old folk outside in our wet summer, up and down rather than relaxing. I note those no longer going to the pub, friendships gone forever. It seems this government want to keep people apart, divide and rule, but they don't walk the same increasingly paranoid streets as us do they? There is so much more to say but suffice to say that I am scared of where our society is going. Very scared" - Mr Kim Sherrington

"What about the rights of those who work in public buildings? We should be protecting their right to work in a smoke free environment. Smokers should not be able to harm other people's health. People can make decisions about their own health and continuing to smoke may be one of them but it isn't a justification to harm others" - Name and address supplied

"The three comments made below, have more truth in them than the article. The majority did not want this ban. Forcing people to do things you want using large fines to comply, is hardly a success. It is the "antis" who are in a minority, which is why some in the hospitality trade, plus bingo halls, coffee shops will lose money. It is a spiteful vindictive, ill thought out, based on lies ban" - Name and address supplied

"I so agree Rufus and believe me under the calm, there is brewing a great storm! Us smokers see are British too and will not take being dictated to lying down. The ban was brought in on false information. Did anyone vote on this matter? How can this report be encouraging, when even the report is based on non-smokers opinions and not the whole of the population? In other words it's not the true opinion of everyone. Like you said Rufus, they've only reached these conclusions as most publicans and bussiness' are scared to death to do anything, for fear of the massive fine. Talk about being bullied into conformity" - Name and address supplied

"Compliance and success are not the same things" - Name and address supplied

"That's funny. All the practice nurses I've spoken to think the ban is way over the top and that it is not good for people's mental health to be treated in such a totalitarian way. They're also deeply worried about the elderly smokers who have been forced outside in all weathers to have a cigarette, as well as those elderly people whose social lives have just been eradicated. It seems to me the practice nurses of my acquaintance are more in touch with reality than the ones mentioned in the above article. Opinion polls are not the population, they are a select few whose opinions are extrapolated as if they were 'he English population. The ONS poll, commissioned by the government, had a very different result to the one commissioned by ASH/CRUK. One has to wonder what the original sample size of the ASH/CRUK poll was, how the samples were chosen and what the final sample size used in their poll results were. I don't know anyone, smoker or non-smoker who is in favour of such divisive and draconian measures. Not one of those people were consulted. Not everyone wants to live to be 100 with no pension, no public services to support them and no pleasures in their lives" - Name and address supplied

"I'm not sure how these figures demonstrate a "success" of the anti-smoking policy. If you brought in a law threatening to fine companies a four-figure amount if they don't display a sign, regardless of whether the sign says "it is illegal to smoke in this building", "all hail the great bureaucrat" or "I'm with stupid" and give local councils enough money to build a small hospital to enforce it then most people will shrug their shoulders, put up the sign and not get fined. There is compliance with the law, but that isn't a success as far as I can tell, just a glorious statistic to make DoH and ASH feel good about themselves" - Rufus Trotman, Oxford