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Decade of smoke-free laws celebrated with smoking rates at lowest level ever

A poll of more than 4,300 people for the charity found that just 12% favoured reversing the laws.

Health campaigners are celebrating the 10th anniversary of smoke-free legislation in England, saying it has had one of the biggest impacts on public health over the last decade.

Laws banning smoking in virtually all enclosed public places in England – including offices, warehouses, factories, pubs, restaurants, railway stations, working vehicles and leisure centres – came into effect on July 1 2007, following Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Cancer Research UK said there were 1.9 million fewer smokers in Britain compared with when the smoking ban was introduced in 2007, with smoking rates now the lowest ever recorded.

The proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who smoke had fallen to 17% from 26% in 2007, a record low and the biggest drop among all age groups.

A poll of more than 4,300 people for the charity found that just 12% favoured reversing the laws.

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “We’re thrilled that 10 years on, the smoking ban has been such an enormous success.

“As well as protecting people from the deadly effects of passive smoking, we’ve also seen big changes in public attitudes towards smoking.

“It’s now far less socially acceptable and we hope this means fewer young people will fall into such a potentially lethal addiction.

“But the job is far from done when we still have more than eight million smokers in Britain and tens of thousands of children taking up the deadly addiction every year.

“We need this Government to continue focusing on tobacco and we urge it to publish the Tobacco Control Plan for England as soon as possible.”

An Action on Smoking and Heath (Ash) report released to coincide with the anniversary said there was increasing public support for further measures such as a licensing scheme for tobacco retailers and a levy on the tobacco industry to pay for measures to reduce smoking.

A long-running Ash/YouGov survey showed support for the smoke-free legislation in England had increased from 78% of all respondents when it came into effect in 2007 to 83% now, primarily due to an increase in support among smokers from 40% to 55%.

Ash chief executive Deborah Arnott said: “Over the last decade the Ash/YouGov survey is evidence of high, and growing, public appetite for government action to reduce smoking prevalence.

“It’s especially telling that one of the most important factors in this growth is support by smokers – and this is happening at the same time as the numbers of people smoking have fallen to the lowest on record.”

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