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  1. ITV Report

10 years on, health campaigners celebrate 'enormous success' of the smoking ban

There are now almost two million fewer smokers since the smoking ban was introduced in England 10 years ago, Cancer Research UK said.

As it celebrated the 10th anniversary of the law, the charity said smoking rates were now the lowest ever recorded - praising the ban as having one of the biggest impacts on public health of the last decade.

Laws people from lighting up in almost all enclosed public places in England came into effect on July 1, 2007 - following Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It covers places including offices, warehouses, factories, pubs, restaurants, railway stations, working vehicles and leisure centres.

26%
of 16 to 24-year-olds smoked in 2007
17%
of 16 to 24-year-olds smoke in 2017
12%
of people want the smoking ban repealed

Since then, the proportion of 16 to 24-year-olds who smoke fell from 26 per cent in 2007 to 17 per cent.

And a poll of more than 4,300 people for the charity found that just 12 per cent are in favour of repealing the ban.

It's been 10 years since people in England were able to smoke in pubs or restaurants Credit: PA

Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said he was "thrilled" by the "enormous success" of the law - but urged the government to continue working on its Tobacco Control Plan.

As well as protecting people from the deadly effects of passive smoking, we've also seen big changes in public attitudes towards smoking.

It's now far less socially acceptable and we hope this means fewer young people will fall into such a potentially lethal addiction.

But the job is far from done when we still have more than eight million smokers in Britain and tens of thousands of children taking up the deadly addiction every year.

We need this government to continue focusing on tobacco and we urge it to publish the Tobacco Control Plan for England as soon as possible.

– Sir Harpal Kumar, Cancer Research UK

Meanwhile, a report by campaign group Action on Smoking and Heath (Ash) said there was increasing public support for further restrictions on tobacco - even among smokers themselves.

Measures such as licensing schemes for tobacco sellers and a levy on the tobacco industry to pay for schemes to reduce smoking have been mooted.

Figures: Cancer Research UK Credit: PA

But smokers' group Forest argued that the rise in e-cigarettes had had a greater impact.

It's disingenuous to suggest the smoking ban has been a significant factor in reducing smoking rates.

For five years after 2007 smoking rates fell in line with the pre-ban trend. The most substantial fall in smoking rates happened after 2012, a period that coincided with the increasing popularity of e-cigarettes.

Attempts to force people to quit are invariably counter-productive. Education and support for less harmful products is the way to go, not prohibition and other restrictive practices.

– Forest spokesman

Public Health Minister Steve Brine said the government would continue working towards make the next generation smoke-free.

"As a nation we can be extremely proud of the progress we have made on smoking rates, which are at their lowest ever levels. We truly are world leaders in this area, through our smoke-free legislation, plain packaging laws and ban on smoking in cars with children," he said.

"However, we know that smoking remains our biggest preventable killer and the job is by no means done. We will soon be releasing a new Tobacco Control Plan, to map our path toward a smoke-free generation."