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Wales: Support For Smoking Ban – 1 Year On

On the first anniversary of the smoking ban in Wales, figures show that just 79 people have been issued with fines for breaking the law. The Welsh Assembly reports that there have been consistently high rates of compliance in Wales and growing support for the public health legislation, which outlawed smoking in all enclosed public and workplaces.

The latest survey suggests that 84% of adults in Wales support smoke-free public places, compared with 71% before the ban, according to the Welsh Assembly Government.

The Assembly Government is now expected to focus its attention on, and try to promote, smoke-free homes, in a bid to reduce children’s exposure to second-hand smoke.

Dr Tony Jewell, Wales’ chief medical officer, said, “The introduction of the smoking ban in enclosed public places has been a milestone for public health and the single most important measure that the Welsh Assembly Government could take to improve the health of the nation and reduce health inequalities.”

Wales was the first country in the UK to vote in favour of a smoking ban, but because it lacked law-making powers, the legislation was not introduced until April last year – after Scotland and Ireland.

But in the year since the ban, air quality in pubs has improved by up to 77%, in line with the Scottish experience.

About a third of Wales’ adult smokers – a quarter of the population smokes – said that they were smoking fewer cigarettes.

The Assembly Government expects the health benefits of the ban to be similar to those in Scotland.

Early research findings from Scotland, where smoke-free legislation came into force in March 2006, have been extremely positive. These include a 17% reduction in heart attack admissions and an 86% reduction in bar workers’ exposure to second-hand smoke.

Western Mail, 31/3/08

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