Eight out of ten Britons would support a smoking ban in all enclosed workplaces, a survey suggests today.
The MORI poll of more than 4,000 people carried out for the pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (Ash) found that the majority of people from all social classes supported a ban on smoking in workplaces - ranging from 86 per cent of professionals (social classes AB) to 72 per cent of social classes DE.
But the poll also reveals that a third actively oppose a blanket ban. While almost everybody (96 per cent) said they would like to see smoking banned in all hospitals and clinics, only around half thought that this should be extended to pubs and nightclubs.
Extensive support also exists for bans in public places. More than eight out of ten would support a ban in shopping centres, with over three-quarters wanting cafes and restaurants to be smoke-free.
A significant majority (64 per cent) wanted to see legislation banning smoking in all public places, with even regular smokers backing such a move. Almost six out of ten regular smokers and seven out of ten infrequent smokers said that they would support legislation.
The director of Ash, Deborah Arnott, said the poll was the most authoritative ever conducted on proposals for a new smoke-free law.
"It shows overwhelming public support for such a law, following its clear success in New York, Ireland and elsewhere. This support extends to smokers and non-smokers alike, and across every region and social class," she said.
Unsurprisingly, smokers’ lobby group Forest disagrees. Its own survey of 10,000 people carried out last month found that three-quarters would not support a blanket ban on smoking in pubs and bars, findings bourn out by separate research for the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers.
Forest’s director, Simon Clark, said: "We’re not surprised that a large majority might favour smoking bans in shops and offices. But we are sceptical that four out of five people would support a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants.
“The result is inconsistent with other independent opinions polls where only a minority support a blanket ban in pubs, clubs and restaurants. We welcome any new research but no one should regard this poll as a definitive expression of public opinion."
But Deborah Arnott was adamant that only a ban would do: "The poll sends the Government a clear message," she said. "The public wants action to end second-hand smoke at work. Second-hand smoke at work kills about 700 people every year and causes many thousands of asthma attacks and episodes of illness. "
The Government will publish a White Paper on public health later in the summer in which its strategy on smoking will be outlined.