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Peers attack public smoking ban

26th June 2006

The ban on smoking in public places is not justified by the risks from passive smoking, says a Lords committee.

MPs voted in February by a huge margin to ban smoking from all pubs and private members' clubs in England. But the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee says MPs failed to consider evidence that passive smoking is more risky in the home.

The anti-smoking group Ash said smoke in public places caused many deaths.

The Lords committee examined government and public attitudes to risk.
"We are also concerned that the government does not pay enough attention to the cumulative impact of legislation on personal freedom and choice," said Lord Wakeham

Its report calls on ministers to pay more attention to the risks to personal liberty posed by new legislation. Singling out the public smoking ban, it argues that the aims of the legislation have not been made clear.

The report says that greater attention should have been given to scientific evidence, which it says suggests that passive smoking in public places is a relatively minor problem compared with passive smoking in the home.

Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, said the government had failed properly to apply guidelines on risk assessment.

Simon Clark, of the smoker's lobby group Forest, said MPs had been hoodwinked by exaggerated claims about the effects of passive smoking.

The Lords committee also criticised the fact that more money had been spent on rail, rather than road safety.


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