Headlines: July 18th, 2006

The Government is beginning consultations on draft regulations to crate smoke-free buildings and vehicles. Legislation which is due to be introduced in England next summer will see almost all enclosed public places and workplaces becoming smoke-free.Public Health Minister Caroline Flint, who announced the consultation, said the regulations would protect people from the harmful effects of secondhand smoke at work or during their leisure time, as well as providing smokers with an environment that would make it easier for them to give up the habit. The consultation is wide-ranging and covers the details of how the legislation will be implemented and enforced. Views are being sought on issues such as possible exemptions and what signs will be required in smoke-free establishments.

Caroline Flint said, “We have worked closely with stakeholders in drafting these regulations and continue to listen to the opinions of the public, stakeholders and the commercial sector in the countdown to going smoke-free next summer.”

The consultation seeks comments on the content of the regulations and their implementation and will run for 12 weeks, until October 9th. Views can be submitted online at http://www.dh.gov.uk/consultations/liveconsultations or by email to smokefreeregulations@dh.gsi.gov.uk

Caroline Flint said medical and scientific evidence on the risks from exposure to second hand smoke was well established. A recent survey had shown that the majority of people supported restrictions on smoking and data from Scotland showed how popular smoke-free public places and workplaces were in practice.

The Minister added, “A key aspect of the Government’s strategy as set out in the White Paper ‘Choosing Health: making healthy choices easier’, is to shift the balance significantly in the favour of smoke-free enclosed public places and workplaces through legislation in order to reduce levels of exposure to secondhand smoke.”