The ban has led to a sharp drop in non-smoking adults reporting being regularly exposed to other people’s smoke. Rates dropped from 66% in 2005/6 to 42% in 2007, the year the ban was introduced. The most recent figures report 33% being exposed on a regular basis.
Health Minister Lesley Griffiths said,
“Wales led the way on voting to ban smoking in public places, followed by the rest of the UK.
“The immediate impact of the ban was a sharp drop in non-smoking adults being regularly exposed to other people’s smoke, and recent figures suggest this initial decrease in exposure has become a welcome trend.
“While we respect the rights of adults who choose to smoke, we want to do all we can to protect those around them from the dangers of second-hand smoke. Most recently, we launched our Fresh Start campaign to try to stop people smoking in cars where children are present, and I have signalled my intention to consider legislation in this area if the campaign does not have enough of an impact.”
Compliance with the legislation has also been high. Returns from local authorities in Wales show smoke-free compliance levels of around 99 per cent, on a par with returns from the Republic of Ireland and the other UK countries.
Dr Jewell said,
“Breathing in other people’s smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and other respiratory diseases in adult non-smokers.
“The ban on smoking in public places has been successful in protecting workers and the public from these serious risks.
“Research shows clear evidence of reduced exposure to environmental tobacco smoke, particularly in pubs, clubs, bars and at work. Encouragingly, studies have found no evidence of any shift in smoking to the home.
“Another positive side-effect of the ban has been to encourage smokers to give up. The Stop Smoking Wales service saw a 20 per cent rise in referrals around the time when the legislation was introduced, and this increase in contact numbers has been sustained.
“70% of smokers report they would like to give up smoking, and 38% tried to do so last year, mainly for health reasons. We know it is hard to give up, but help is out there.”
Stop Smoking Wales (0800 085 2219) can provide one-to-one or group support. The Smokers Helpline (0800 169 0 169) is also on hand to offer friendly, easy to understand information on how you can quit if you are starting to think about it but are not quite sure how you can ‘make the leap’ by stopping smoking.