Wales bans smoking outside pubs, cafes and restaurants

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Plans to ban smoking outside pubs, cafes and restaurants have been announced by the Welsh government. Health Minister Vaughan Gething said he was committed to “advancing work” on the ban during Senedd’s next term.

The anti-smoking charity Ash Wales said it welcomed the move which would further protect non-smokers from the effects of second-hand smoke.

However, pro-smoking groups say banning it outdoors could be the “final straw” for places that are already struggling to survive the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

An estimated 440,000 adults (17%) currently smoke in Wales, and almost half (45%) have tried to quit smoking in the past year.

In a written statement, Mr Gething said: “I remain committed to ensuring that more public spaces in Wales are smoke-free and I intend to take the work forward during the next term of office. Senedd to extend the smoking ban to outside areas of cafes and restaurants as well as city centers. . ”

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The Minister’s statement explained how this ban would be part of new legislation that will replace the 2007 Smoke-Free Premises Regulations, etc. (Wales).

The new law also plans to extend the smoking ban to outside areas of hospital grounds, schools and local government playgrounds.

Suzanne Cass, CEO of Ash Wales, said: “In Wales, where 83% of the population does not smoke, it is extremely important that we introduce measures both to protect non-smokers but also to denormalize this devastating addiction and encourage smokers to seek help to quit smoking.

“As the lockout restrictions are lifted and customers, including families with young children, return to the outdoor areas of pubs, cafes and restaurants, it is more important than ever to ensure that staff and customers are protected from the inhalation of secondhand smoke that we know of. poses significant health risks. ”

Keir Lewis, a professor of respiratory medicine at the University of Swansea, explained the risk of smoking in closed outdoor seats.

He said, “We know there is a direct risk of inhaling second-hand smoke because of the small particles that get into the lungs and make people more likely to suffer from respiratory symptoms and narrowing of their airways. .

“In addition, the closer you are to someone, the higher the exposure to these fumes and molecules and the higher the risk.

“This risk is particularly high for those who work in the hotel industry and who are exposed to second-hand smoke daily because the effects are cumulative, even if they are outside. ”

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He said there is also an increased risk of death for smokers on Covid-19 as they cough more often.

“When people cough, we know that the droplets spread over two meters. There is also the risk that people exposed to second-hand smoke are more likely to cough and spread their droplets more.

“In these times of uncertainty, anything we can do to reduce discomfort and risk to others and to ourselves, without harming others, is really a good thing. ”

In response to this plan, Simon Clark, director of the anti-smoking group Forest, said: “There is no evidence that smoking outdoors is a threat to public health, so it is a business case individual, not for the Welsh government. or local authorities.

“Thanks to the coronavirus crisis, the hotel sector is facing a huge challenge to get back on its feet.

“Other regulations could discourage many customers from returning. ”

He added: “The smoking ban has been a major factor in the closure of hundreds of pubs in Wales. The ban on smoking outside could be the last drop for many other establishments struggling to survive. ”

In May, menthol cigarettes were banned across the UK in an effort to prevent young people from getting used to it.

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