Smoke ban for Suffolk town?

IPSWICH could soon be a smoking-free zone if ambitious plans being developed by a healthcare provider are given enough support.Ipswich Primary Care Trust (PCT) hope to persuade businesses in the town to join them in the battle to stub out smoking in public places.

IPSWICH could soon be a smoking-free zone if ambitious plans being developed by a healthcare provider are given enough support.

Ipswich Primary Care Trust (PCT) hope to persuade businesses in the town to join them in the battle to stub out smoking in public places.

The move follows other recent high-profile anti-smoking campaigns – including a call by leading medical journal The Lancet for smoking to be outlawed completely.

Terry Ward, PCT corporate director, said: "There's a movement across the country at the moment to try and establish smoke-free areas to help protect the health of the general public.


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"What we are trying to do is create a consensus among the owners of buildings and businesses that areas used by the public are increasingly made smoke-free areas.

"Clearly, it's an area in which we can only really go forward in partnership with others and we will try to build a consensus with both public and private sector organisations.

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"It's at a very early stage, but we have been floating the scheme for the past few weeks and getting an idea as to how people would react if we proposed it. We will be sounding people out for some time to come."

Mr Ward added: "We are still working on a definition of exactly what a smoke-free town would be.

"We have to be incredibly careful, because people may fear that they are going to be stopped in the street and accosted for smoking – that will not happen.

"The last thing we would do is adopt a Big Brother approach. We don't want to do that, and it just wouldn't work."

With 120,000 people dying every year from smoking related diseases, and a further 1,000 killed by second-hand smoke, an Ipswich ban would save healthcare money, but that is not the key reason for the plans, according to Mr Ward.

"We are not doing it to save money, although that clearly would be a spin-off," he said. "We are doing this to try and encourage people to protect their own health and the health of those around them."

The town's pubs and café's would be one of the most important business sectors in which a smoking ban must garner support but, with fewer than 40 smoke-free pubs in the UK, it may be an uphill battle.

Michael Collins, chairman of Ipswich Pubwatch, said: "I'm very much against no-smoking pubs – I have people who use my pub whose life is their cigarettes and their pint of beer.

"My view is that there should be smoke-free zones. It would destroy the trade when and if a ban comes in."

A spokesman for FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) added: "At the end of the day, pubs aren't banning smoking because there's no demand for it.

"However, we believe that privately-owned establishments have the right to choose policies as they see fit and we do support the right to ban smoking if they so wish.

"What we don't want to see is the Government passing a legal ban – then smokers would have no choice."

Meanwhile, a spokesman for ASH (Action on Smoking and Health), urged the people of Ipswich to get behind the PCT's idea.

He said: "We want to see a law clearly requiring employers to have smoke-free work places. At the moment, at least three million workers are still regularly exposed to second hand smoke every day.

"Any voluntary steps that are taken to go smoke-free should be welcomed. We welcome the intentions of Ipswich PCT and hope that locals will respond to them."

nWhat do you think about smoke free areas in Suffolk? Write to East Anglian Daily Times Letters at 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AN or email EADTletters@eadt.co.uk

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