Smoking Bans - Tobacco in Work and Public Places
Many governments are now introducing smoking bans in the face of overwhelming evidence that cigarette smoke harms not only the smoker but also those around them. The force of these bans varies from one country to another but in the richest nations the drive to rid offices, restaurants, hotels and public places is fast gaining momentum.
In 2003 Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in all workplaces including bars and restaurants. Publicans were initially against the move fearing a detrimental effect on trade. But it has become more widely accepted since the introduction of outside drinking areas where smokers are allowed to light up.
New Zealand , Australia , Norway , Canada , New York and California have also imposed bans on smoking in clubs, bars and restaurants. In New York and California in particular opposition is still rife with businesses claiming they'll go bust if they lose the custom of smokers.
In the UK the government has sparked a furious row by moving to outlaw smoking in all public premises that serve food and in the workplace by 2006.
The World Health Organisation is currently trying to persuade UN countries to adopt an international Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. This calls for bans on direct and indirect tobacco advertising, smoke free environments, clearer health messages on cigarette packaging and increased tobacco tax and prices.
More than 90% of countries, including the European Union, have so far signed the treaty which will provide a global framework within which member countries can operate. But to date only a relatively small number of countries have ratified the treaty and WHO needs much broader commitment before these measures can come into force on a global scale.