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POLITICS: Stay mellow over smoking ban.

West Midlands councils were urged to take a softly-softly approach to the smoking ban which comes into force next week.

Health Minister Caroline Flint said she would be delighted if nobody was fined or prosecuted for smoking.

And she predicted little enforcement would be necessary - because smokers would voluntarily decide not to light up in pubs.

Speaking to The Birmingham Post, she said: "If somebody goes into their local pub and lights up without thinking about it, we are not saying they should be fined.

"It's enough for them to be reminded about the new laws. I have no doubt that they would stub it out.

"There may be people who test the law in order to make a point. If there are smoking martyrs who deliberately set out to break the law, they may have to be prosecuted.

"But if councils tell me they haven't actually fined or prosecuted anyone I'd see it as evidence the changes have been successful."

Smoking will be banned in almost all enclosed spaces from July 1.

Ignoring the new laws could cost smokers pounds 50 as a fixed penalty fine, or pounds 200 if a fine is imposed by a court.
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jun 27, 2007
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