The Smoking Ban: Five Years On

When the smoking ban finally came into force on 1 July 2007, for the most part, it was quite well received by the English public. After all, England was the last country of the United Kingdom to implement the ban and many other countries (such as Ireland and the United States) had banned smoking in public places many years before.

Of course, there was always bound to be a contingency of hard-line smokers who would whine that a smoking ban is a violation of their human rights, but if it means that they are smoking around other people and putting their health at risk through passive smoking, it is even more of a violation of the rights of the non-smoker to enjoy a smoke-free environment.

Five years on, we still have this same contingency of smokers who believe the ban has not worked and that they continue to be persecuted. However, a poll of around 12,000 people suggested that 78% of the population were still in favour of maintaining this ban. Furthermore, actual smokers are included amongst the people who support the ban, as they now fully accept the fact that they will just have to nip outside of a public building if that nagging craving insists on beckoning to them.

It is in the health statistics that we will be able to measure whether or not this smoking ban has really worked. Bearing in mind it is only five years since the ban was put in place, the early signs are actually very encouraging. Some statistics have already come to light:

A study of bar workers showed an increase in respiratory health after the smoking ban had been put in place, and this was as a result of less exposure to passive smoking.
Apparently another study has proven that children are now 70% less exposed to the effects of passive smoking than they were before the ban.
According to a study carried out through Glasgow University, there has been a 15% reduction in the number of children being admitted to hospital suffering from asthma.
There has been a decline of around 2.4% in the number of heart attack admissions, and it is claimed that this is as a direct result of the smoking ban.

When the ban was first introduced back in 2007, many people asserted that if you stop people from smoking in public areas, they will be forced to smoke within their own homes. This, in turn, was thought to possibly lead to an increase in the number of adults smoking in front of their children and putting their health at risk. However, the early study results above would not appear to qualify this concern. Moreover, it is believed that this smoking ban has actually increased people’s understanding of the potential harm of smoking around others.

Now, there are people crying out for this ban to be taken even further, and one such suggestion is to prohibit smoking in a car when a child is present. Again, we have the usual whining about human rights etc., but actually, when you sit back and think about this, it goes without saying that adults should never smoke in front of their children. Especially nowadays when every single person in this country knows exactly what the risks of passive smoking really are.

Perhaps this suggestion needs to be taken even further: should there also be a ban on adults smoking in front of their children in their own homes? Whilst initially the vast majority of us would scream - Yes! We would need to remember that this law would be extremely difficult to police and could lead to so many other problems. Rest assured, though, that it is just a matter of time before such a law is introduced. It may take 20 or more years, but it will be put into place at some time in the future.