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Smoke won't get in your eyes

Sunday, 1 July cannot come soon enough. That's the day the new smoking legislation comes into place - and I'm going to take my family out for a guaranteed smokefree Sussex pub lunch. My local landlord informs me I'm lucky to get a table - he's had a rush on bookings by families with the same intention. He's even ordered new curtains as he says, ''they won't be trashed by cigarette smells and nicotine deposits".' No, he's not worried that he'll lose customers - he thinks he'll gain more, especially families and women.

Interestingly, this reflects a survey by the British Thoracic Society and Action on Smoking and Health that was conducted in April this year. This survey found that of those polled, 72% supported smokefree pubs and bars. Another 76% of women said they were bothered by smoke and 28% reported they would visit smokefree pubs more often. All age groups said they would be more likely to visit pubs after the legislation set in, including a resounding 32% of 25-43-year-olds.

Evidence from Scotland and Ireland who already have smokefree legislation indicates there will be a drop in alcohol purchases but a compensatory rise in food sales.   

Personally, I'm looking forward to not scanning a pub or restaurant for the telltale signs of rising smoke, or eyeing up the clientele wondering if they are likely to light up before, after, or worse, during our meal. It really bugs me when I'm relaxed and settled, thinking I've made a good choice of seating - then some smokers come in and, damn it, sit themselves right next to me. I've had many an outing ruined this way with the memory lingering in my hair and smelly clothes.

Evidence tells us that after the ban, there will be a different drinking culture and pub clientele - one that is less macho and more mature. Those who frequent the pub less often will likely to be over 45, at the lower end of the socioeconomic scale and living with their partners.   

Like me, have you worried about the influence smoke exposure may have on your older teenage kids? Although mine don't smoke, they frequent bars and clubs that send them home with lungs dealt their fair share of secondhand smoke. But the survey predicts good news. Apparently young smokers are the most ambitious quitters, with 25% of 18-24-year-olds planning to stop before 1 July. It appears smoking may be going out of fashion with younger smokers, with London smokers (one in five) being the most intent on stopping. In contrast, the over-55s are the least inclined to quit; still, 20% indicate they want to do so in the next year.

With the arrival of smokefree public places, as healthcare professionals and as a nation, we need to seize this unique opportunity to support people wanting to stop smoking - there will never be another time like it. 
An Office of National Statistics survey reveals 70% of smokers in England want to stop and over half say they now "intend" to quit instead of "want" to quit. They appear very focused, with one in eight intending to stop before the 1 July, and one in 20 committing this as their quit date. In Scotland, one in every 20 smokers attempted to quit in the first year of the smokefree legislation, and smoking prevalence reduced in Ireland from 27% to 22% one year after the ban. Seems like good news all round.

So in just over three weeks, for me and mine, Sunday walks with a pub lunch stop will be well and truly a healthy fresh air experience. Cheers to the new smoking legislation!   

The BTS/ASH survey, "Smokefree England: We're holding our breath" is available at