Oxfordshire BANS smoking outdoors

Oxfordshire will become the first county in England to ban smoking outdoors.

The county has unveiled plans to be the first region in the country to go smoke-free by the year 2025.

The 'crack down on smoking' is due to commence later this month, with outdoor dining areas and workplace break spots as the top targets to go smoke-free.

Under the new proposal, Oxfordshire County Council aims to reduce the prevalence of smoking in the adult population to below five per cent by 2025 and reduce smoking among workers to below 10 per cent by the same year. 

Oxfordshire's public health director, Ansaf Azhar last week said the move aimed to 'create an environment in which not smoking is encouraged'.  

He said: 'It is not about telling people not to smoke.

'It is about moving and creating an environment in which not smoking is encouraged and they are empowered to do so.

'But that is not going to happen overnight.'

Dr Adam Briggs, the public health official leading the strategy, added: 'We have got a condition that is entirely a commercially driven cause of death and disease.

'It is impossible to be on the wrong side of history with tobacco consumption.'

He also referred to figures given by the chief medical officer Chris Whitty at a recent conference, who said more than 90,000 people died from tobacco related diseases in 2020, compared with 75,000 from Covid-19.     

 

A pro-smoking campaign group called The Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest) has criticised the plans.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group Forest, said: 'It's no business of local councils if adults choose to smoke, and if they smoke outside during working hours that's a matter for them and their employer not the council.'

Andrew McHugh, a member of the health improvement partnership board, said he had asked Cherwell District Council, where he is a councillor, to make all new pavement licenses smoke-free.

Pavement licenses allow restaurants and bars to place tables and chairs outside their premises.

The council denied the request, saying that the easing of coronavirus restrictions was not the time to impose more rules on businesses.

Records show that 12 per cent of Oxfordshire's population currently smoke.

Smoke-free is officially recognised by the Government when five per cent of the population or less are smokers.

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