England Goes Smoke Free July 1

Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland have already butted out and England is next. As of July 1, the United Kingdom will become the largest country in the world to be non-smoking. A huge campaign is underway to alert citizens that smoking will be illegal in all workplaces, restaurants and enclosed public spaces. Of course the hysteria is focused on pubs, with publicans fearing for their livelihood. The Republic of Ireland went smoke free in 2004, and despite claims that the law would have a negative economic impact, there has been no decline in business at pubs and restaurants, in fact business has improved. It's hardly rocket science but a recent study has found that the smoking ban in Ireland has cut air pollution in pubs and improved bar-workers' health. Scotland banned smoking last year and it is estimated that more than 46,000 people quit as a result of the ban. Publicans there claim that drink sales have gone down 11 per cent as the locals have stayed away and 35 per cent of pubs have laid off staff. David Hockney, the artist, is a one-man band, railing against the smoking ban and "dreary people" telling him what to do. He points out that "Monet smoked, and he died at 86. Picasso and Matisse smoked, and lived to a ripe old age." In England about 27% of British adults still smoke and the government expects that approximately 600,000 people will quit as a direct result of the ban. :: Smokefree England

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