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The smoking ban was first enforced in 2007 and since then, it has been credited with substantially reducing smoking levels in Britain. Nevertheless, many doctors are adamant that the law needs to go even further.
In a new report, The Royal College of Physicians – an organisation that counts over 20,000 medical professionals among its members – is campaigning for the smoking ban to be extended. They would like to see cigarettes outlawed inside cars, on beaches, in parks, and outside of all buildings.
The main thrust of their argument is that children’s health should be made a priority – and that as things stand, children are being hugely affected by second-hand smoke from their parents, when they take them to school, drive them to the shops, or go on holidays in their cars.
Second hand or passive smoking costs the NHS £23 million every single year. It causes 300,000 extra visits to the doctor, for various conditions ranging from chest infections to asthma, and kills 600 people every year. What is more, the latest scientific evidence suggests that ‘third hand smoke’ could also be a big threat to the nation’s well-being. Third hand smoke essentially means nicotine stains that are left on surfaces after a smoker has left the room. This can include carpets, furniture and upholstery. Research shows that these stains can linger on for days after cigarettes have been stubbed out, presenting a particular danger to children, who may touch the marks before putting their hands near to their fingers.
The anti-smoking group Forest has argued against the ban, which they say is an outrageous attempt to further limit the personal freedoms of smokers. They argue that smoking is a personal choice, and that restricting the areas in which people can legally smoke is a direct attack on the liberty of the adult population. On the other hand, Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, said that “radical action” is needed, and that if above all else, we should be thinking about children’s health. If adults’ freedoms need to be restricted to do this, he says that this is simply a sacrifice that will have to be made.