Ten years on, it is easy to forget how controversial and hard-fought the ban on smoking in public places was. In the years leading up to the legislation being passed, there was opposition in some quarters. Critics argued that it was not the state’s role to determine what people do to their bodies.
The 10th anniversary of the ban is a time to look back at what has been achieved. While it took a long time to get the legislation introduced – cinemas first started restricting smoking in the 1970s – when it did happen it was pretty seamless. Four months after the introduction of the ban, the government announced 98 per cent of places inspected by local authority officers were compliant.
But the anniversary is also a time to remind ourselves that we must not be complacent. Too many people are still smoking – 16.9 per cent of adults on last count – and it remains the leading cause of preventable deaths and diseases. Our ultimate aim should be to become a smoke-free nation. We still have a long way to go.
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