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Soaring support for cigs ban.

Public support for a smoking ban in public places has soared in the North-east, a new study revealed today.

The MORI poll found 79pc of people in the region support a call for smoke-free workplaces, while only 8pc are strongly opposed.

The news has been welcomed by health bosses in Middlesbrough, who plan to force smokers to stub out in enclosed public places in a bid to cut death rates.

Now the proposals over a bar on smoking could take a step forward, thanks to growing public backing for the scheme.

Professor Peter Kelly, director of health improvement and public health for Middlesbrough Primary Care Trust, said: "The message is slowly getting across.

"From lots of different angles, people are starting to realise how harmful smoking in workplaces can be and they are not prepared to put up with it any more."

In the new study, commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health, more than 4,000 people were interviewed across the country throughout April and May.

Only 8pc were strongly opposed, while 6pc "tended to oppose" the proposal.

The poll results come as the consultation period ends on the Government's White Paper on public health, to be published in July.

And new evidence was recently published showing the success of legislation in Ireland. The Office of Tobacco Control has shown the new smoke-free workplace law has a 97pc compliance rate - and the number of non-smokers visiting pubs and bars has risen slightly, while the number of smokers visiting has remained the same.

ASH director Deborah Arnott said: "The poll sends the Government a clear message. The public wants action to end secondhand smoke at work.

"Secondhand smoke at work kills about 700 people every year and causes many thousands of asthma attacks and episodes of illness.

"A new law to protect employees and the public is long overdue. This is now the critical test for the Governments planned White Paper on public health.

"Nothing less than a clear proposal for a new law will do if the Government is serious about protecting non-smokers and helping smokers to quit."
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Title Annotation:News Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 10, 2004
Words:349
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