UK fears as Norway looks at smoke ban

Related tags Smoking Smoking ban

Norway could become the first country in the world to ban smoking in all of its pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs.In a proposal that could be copied...

Norway could become the first country in the world to ban smoking in all of its pubs, bars, restaurants and clubs.

In a proposal that could be copied by other European countries - including Britain - Norway's government has pledged to ban smoking in almost all public places by 2004.

Although some countries, including the United States and South Africa, have already imposed bans in some areas, Norway would be the first state to outlaw smoking completely.

According to UK experts, the ban would also be the most restrictive as it takes no account of measures such as ventilation or no-smoking areas.

Norway already has some of the world's strictest legislative controls on smoking. Smoking in most public places, at work and on public transport was banned more than 10 years ago.

Pubs and bars have to have no-smoking areas with good ventilation that prevents smoke from drifting from the smoking area. But the government now thinks this is difficult to enforce and has said it favours an outright ban, which would be easier to control. Under such a ban smoking would only be permitted in bars' outdoor areas.

Now industry leaders in Britain are concerned Norway's proposals could be reproduced in Britain if licensees fail to sign up to the trade's voluntary charter. It is also feared that if the Norwegian ban wins public support ministers in the UK may be minded to follow suit.

Publicans have already been warned that failing to comply with the voluntary charter on smoking in pubs, which advises the use of signage, with ventilation and no-smoking areas where appropriate, could lead to tougher regulation.

Georgina Wald, spokeswoman for the British Institute of Innkeeping, said: "This is the kind of measure that we are up against. If this does not make the laggards that are not yet charter-compliant sign up today, then I cannot imagine what will. This is the worst-case scenario."

The Department of Health will assess the charter's effectiveness at the end of this year by which time it expects 50 per cent of pubs to have signed up. Of those, 35 per cent will be expected to have adequate ventilation.

Advisory group Atmosphere Improves Results (AIR) has warned that if targets are not met by the end of 2002, legislation such as that in Norway could become a reality in the UK.

For more information call AIR on 020 7482 0620 or go to

Related topics Legislation

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