English county first to ban outdoor smoking

NHS doctor on the dangers of smoking

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Oxfordshire council will become the first county in England to ban smoking outdoors by 2025. The county’s goals include reducing the number of teenagers who smoke down to three percent and smoking among manual workers down to 10 percent.

They also aim to reduce the number of smokers with mental illness to under 20 percent and pregnant smokers to below four percent, OxfordshireLive reports.

It comes as the government says it will award areas with a ‘smoke free’ label once five percent or less of the population smoke. This means that Oxfordshire must reduce numbers by more than half since that figure currently stands at 12 percent.

Incentives will include smoke-free outdoor restaurant seating and workplaces asking staff not to smoke outside the building.

The plans have come into place in a bid to reduce the effects of second-hand smoking.

Dr Adam Briggs, who is spearheading the smoke-free strategy, said in a report that smoking was the main cause of preventable deaths in Oxford and costs a huge £120 million each year.

The NHS says that that second-hand smoking can lead to illnesses such as lung-cancer, even if you have never smoked a cigarette yourself and living with someone who smokes increases an individual’s chance of having lung cancer by 25 percent.

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England’s chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, said smoking has killed more people than Covid has since the beginning of the pandemic, estimating that 900,000 people a year die as a result.

Oxfordshire council and other authorities within the local area will work with the NHS to put in measures to reach the five percent mark, as well as cracking down on illicit tobacco and reducing sales.

The council also provides free online training sessions in what is known as ‘Very Brief Advice’ which allows offers practical advice to someone in as little as 30 seconds, including guidance for those who encounter smokers in their day-to-day life.

The council has stressed that this not a ban, but rather an attempt to create an environment where people are encouraged to not smoke.

There has been some backlash to the campaign, including lobby groups who argue that it is a personal choice to smoke and this should not be imposed on them by local authorities.

There has also been some worry that this move will then incentivise the council to crack down on people who vape, although there has been no mention of this by the council.

Whilst Oxfordshire is the first area to make such a big commitment, other parts of the UK are showing signs of following suit, Mirror reports.

Northumberland county council, Durham, North Tyneside, Newcastle, and the City of Manchester have banned smoking in pavement seating areas where bars, restaurants and cafes put out tables.

Gateshead has also put in place measures that mean that pavement cafes must be smoke-free.

Additional reporting by Sofia Della Sala and Shiler Mahmoudi.

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