First Outdoor Smoking Ban Set To Be Implemented In The UK
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The UK’s first ever outdoor smoking ban is set to be implemented in Oxfordshire.
The move comes as part of the county’s ambitious plans to become ‘completely smoke free’ by 2025. The term 'smoke-free' is officially recognised by the government as the point at which a maximum of five percent of the adult population are classified as smokers.
As reported by the Oxford Mail, a plan that was initially agreed by public health officials last year is now finally underway, with a big part of the strategy the goal of creating more environments in which people feel 'empowered' not to smoke.
One councillor has put forward the idea to Cherwell District Council that all new pavement licenses - which allow bars and restaurants to have outdoor seating areas - should only be granted by the local authority on the condition that they are non-smoking.
The plans would also see employers discouraging people from smoking outside offices and factories to create new smoke-free areas around all places of work and nearby public spaces.
Oxfordshire's Public Health Director, Ansaf Azhar, said the strategy represents the 'long game’ in the push to change smoking culture, and ultimately, prevent deaths from diseases linked to tobacco.
Speaking to the county's health improvement partnership board, Mr Azhar said: “It is not about telling people not to smoke. It is about moving and creating an environment in which not smoking is encouraged and they are empowered to do so.
"But that is not going to happen overnight."
Dr Adam Briggs, the public health official leading the strategy, added: "We have got a condition that is entirely a commercially driven cause of death and disease.
"It is impossible to be on the wrong side of history with tobacco consumption."
However, pro-smoking groups, including the lobby group, Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest), have criticised the plans.
Forest Director, Simon Clark, said: "It's no business of local councils if adults choose to smoke, and if they smoke outside during working hours that's a matter for them and their employer not the council."
The Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy was first announced back in February 2020, however the onset of the Covid pandemic forced delays to the original schedule.
Oxfordshire council say smoking remains the 'single greatest cause of death' in the county and at the time of the initial announcement, Mr Azhar said the strategy would be a 'step change' in how smoking was treated in the county, and that it would include introducing more smoke-free spaces, supporting smokers to quit, regulating tobacco products and continuing existing prevention work.
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