U.K. charity Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has called on the government to introduce a "smoking exclusion zone around pubs, bars and schools," in the hope that more people would go into pubs and clubs and more smokers would be pushed into using e-cigarettes or nicotine replacement therapy.
The RSPH's report, "Smoking cessation: taking a harm-reduction approach," released Thursday also called for an end to the confused message over the harmfulness of nicotine as well as non-tobacco nicotine products to be sold alongside tobacco products in shops.
In a release to accompany the report Shirley Cramer, the organisation's chief executive, described nicotine addiction as, "not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction."
The last few years have seen a range of smoking bans imposed across the world. In 2011 Spain introduced tough legislation that prohibited smoking in bars, restaurants and near playgrounds and hospitals, while in New York City the Smoke Free Air Act bans smoking and the use of e-cigarettes in almost all workplaces, city parks, near hospitals and on beaches and pedestrian plazas.
According to a 2014 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, "The annual costs of direct medical care of adults attributable to smoking are now estimated to be over $130 billion."
In the United Kingdom lighting up in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed public spaces has been banned since 2007.
According to the British Beer & Pub Association British pubs contribute £22 billion to the U.K. economy and generate £13 billion in tax revenue. Many pubs are not in the best of health, however, with the Campaign for Real Ale saying that 29 pubs are closing every week across the UK.
Industry bodies have little appetite for an extension of the ban. Commenting on the report, a spokesperson for the BBPA said that, "Whilst pubs recognise that the 2007 smoking ban is here to stay, there is no push to prevent smokers from smoking in outside spaces."
The spokesperson added that, "Most customers recognise that the law works well as it is, and protects staff and smokers from second hand smoke."
Commenting on the potential of a smoking ban being extended, Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking group Forest, said in a statement that, "Banning smoking outside pubs and bars would discriminate against adults who enjoy smoking."