It is now six years since the Smoking Ban was fully introduced into the UK, with England following where Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had led before in banning tobacco smoking in workplaces and public spaces. But what impact has this ban had on public health in the last five years?
Late last year a report commissioned by the Government concluded “The law has had a significant impact" and Amanda Sandford from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) who commented: "It is one of the most important public health acts in the last century. There's no question it's been hugely beneficial."
Despite such praise for the effects of the ban, and increasingly more countries following suit, the rate of smoking hasn’t shown the marked difference that might have been expected prior to the ban’s enforcement. The UK-wide smoking rate has remained fairly steady since 2007 at around 21%. However, some areas of the UK have shown reductions in smoking rates – such as the North East, where the smoking rate dropped from 29% in 2007 to 21% in 2011.
A 2012 survey which questioned over 12,000 people discovered over 78% of British people remained in favour of the smoking ban. And there have been calls from many health campaigners, including the Royal College of Physicians, for the ban to be extended further – to include parks and inside cars. Ultimately, it can be claimed that the workplace ban has worked for those who used it as an aid to cut down their tobacco intake, and for those who wanted to avoid second-hand smoke at work or in leisure.
So where will this leave ordinary smokers, who don’t want to, or can’t stop, smoking cigarettes? Well, if a smoker is unable to stop smoking through the traditional nicotine-replacement methods, an ecigarette will provide a harm-reducing alternative.
As regular incig customers will know, an ecigarette emits only an odourless vapour and enables the user to smoke indoors and in work without fear of treading on anybody’s toes. So even if the smoking ban is extended to other public areas, those who switch to an ecigarette will continue to be able to enjoy a social cigarette if they choose.