Survey - smoking ban backed

FOUR out of five people in East Anglia support a law banning smoking in all enclosed workplaces, a survey has revealed.The poll carried out for Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) found that 81% of people in East Anglia backed an end to second-hand smoke in pubs, restaurants and offices – compared to 80% nationally.

FOUR out of five people in East Anglia support a law banning smoking in all enclosed workplaces, a survey has revealed.

The poll carried out for Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) found that 81% of people in East Anglia backed an end to second-hand smoke in pubs, restaurants and offices – compared to 80% nationally.

Only 4% of people in the region strongly opposed such a ban, while 6% "tended to oppose" the proposal.

The findings also disputed claims made by Health Secretary John Reid that the middle classes were "obsessed" with the smoking issue.

The Mori poll, in which more than 4,000 people were questioned, found the majority of people from all social classes were in support of smoke-free workplaces - ranging from 86% in the most wealthy group to 72% in more deprived areas.

Earlier this week Dr Reid angered anti-smoking campaigners with his remarks on smoking and the opinions of different social classes.

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Dr Reid said: "I just do not think the worst problem on our sink estates by any means is smoking, but that is an obsession of the learned middle-class.

"What enjoyment does a 21-year-old single mother of three living in a council sink estate get? The only enjoyment sometimes they have is to have a cigarette.'

The Government is set to publish a White Paper on public health later in the summer, when the passive smoking issue is set to be covered.

The latest poll by Ash contradicts research released by smokers' lobby group Forest last month.

Its own survey of 10,000 people across Britain found that 74% said they did not support a total ban on smoking in pubs and bars.

The new research found the majority (64%) wanted to see national legislation by the Government to ban smoking in public places, like that seen in Ireland and Norway.

A further 21% preferred new powers to be handed to local councils to tackle passive smoking in their own areas.

The poll found that even regular smokers supported a new law, with 59% of daily smokers and 68% of infrequent smokers backing such a move.

Voters for all the main political parties also showed similar levels of support for the law - 81% of Labour voters, 83% of those intending to vote Conservative and 85% of Liberal Democrat voters.

Ash director Deborah Arnott said the poll was the "most authoritative and largest ever conducted' on proposals for a new smoke-free law.

Ms Arnott added: "The poll sends the Government a clear message.The public wants action to end second-hand smoke at work.

"Second-hand smoke at work kills about 700 people every year and causes many thousands of asthma attacks and episodes of illness. A new law to protect employees and the public is long overdue.

Simon Clark, director of smoking lobby group Forest, said: "We're not surprised that a large majority might favour smoking bans in shops and offices.

"The result is inconsistent with other independent opinions polls where only a minority support a blanket ban in pubs, clubs and restaurants.

"We welcome any new research but no one should regard this poll as a definitive expression of public opinion.'

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