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Archive for Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Bill banning smoking in public places approved

February 15, 2006

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— Britain's lower house of Parliament voted on Tuesday to ban smoking in all public places in England - including pubs, both public and private.

Prime Minister Tony Blair had allowed all lawmakers from his Labour Party to vote their conscience on the issue - rather than toeing the party line - following widespread criticism of the party's earlier plans to exempt private clubs and pubs that do not serve food.

The measure, which will take effect by summer 2007 if ratified by the upper chamber, extends the no-smoking law to public places such as cinemas, offices, factories and shopping malls.

Health officials hailed Parliament's decision, saying the legislation would lead to fewer deaths from smoking-related illnesses.

Smokers groups and members of the tobacco industry said they felt let down by the vote for a total ban.

Britain joins Ireland, Finland, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Sweden and several U.S. states and cities that have restricted smoking in public places in recent years.

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