Smokers left out in the cold

Government plans to extend the smoking ban to entrances to public buildings. Photo: Anneka James

The familiar sight of smokers hovering outside the university buildings could soon be a thing of the past under new public health plans outlined by the government.

It’s been three years since the government introduced the smoking ban, and with a review of the ban due this summer new guidelines published by the government suggest that the ban may be extended to the entrances to public buildings.

The review comes after reports suggest that whilst the ban did cut the number of smokers, it increased the amount of second-hand smoke passed on to non-smokers.

Andrew Hamblyn, a smoker, thinks the extension of the ban is a good idea, saying it is not fair for non-smokers to have to walk through clouds of smoke as well as acting as more of a deterent. “It’s also going to stop people, in particular young people, hanging around outside shops etc,” saysHamblyn.

It has been proven that second-hand smoke is the cause of thousands of deaths each year and it causes the same diseases as smoking, including cancer and heart disease.

The effect of the ban would mean smokers would have to find somewhere else to smoke rather than just on the street outside buildings.

University of Lincoln students have mixed feeling about the ban. Louise Shearing suffers from asthma, and says: “I have to be very careful when I go out clubbing. I can’t just go outside for some air. If I get hot inside, I have to deal with it. There are more smokers than there are people with asthma, so we are just forgotten about. This extension of the ban will make a massive difference to me on nights out.”

One member of a group of smokers huddled together outside the library says: “It’s a joke to expect us to go anywhere else. They’ve already stopped us from smoking inside and now this. Unless the government start putting up smoking shelters we’ve got nowhere to go.”

Many smokers agree that if they are forced out of buildings and away from entrances then they should be provided with a place to smoke. Some work environments offer smoking shelters, but smokers are pushing for more. Paul Stewart, a student and part-time worker, agrees more should be offered to smokers. Stewart says: “If the government are going to tell people where they should smoke, then they should be prepared to create a new areas for them.”

The UK wouldn’t be the first country to try and take the smoking ban one step further. Parts of the US have already enforced similar laws, and in Moscow smokers must be at least 20ft away from a building.

Health experts agree that while it’s a big decision, it definitely has good long-term prospects. Andy Burnham, the government’s health secretary, says: “We’ve come so far and now we’ll go even further, to push forward and save even more lives.”

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