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UK’s First Outdoor Smoking Ban Set To Be Introduced In Oxfordshire

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UK’s First Outdoor Smoking Ban Set To Be Introduced In Oxfordshire

Oxfordshire is set to become the UK's first place to ban smoking outdoors, as part of plans for the region to be completely smoke-free by 2025.

According to the Oxford Mail, a plan agreed by public health officials last year is finally 'underway'.

The county's strategy includes creating more environments where people feel 'empowered' not to smoke.

A councillor has asked Cherwell District Council to make all new pavement licenses - which allow bars and restaurants to have outdoor seating areas - smoke-free.

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Officials would also aim to encourage employers to stop people smoking outside offices and factories, and to create new smoke-free areas in pavement dining spaces.

Last week, Oxfordshire's Public Health Director Ansaf Azhar said the strategy was a 'long game' to change smoking culture, with hopes that it will prevent deaths from diseases linked to tobacco.

Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Speaking to the county's health improvement partnership board, 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.

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"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."

Pro-smoking groups have criticised the plans, including a campaign called The Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest).

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Credit: PA
Credit: PA

Simon Clark, who is Director of the lobby group, 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."

The move comes as part of Oxfordshire's plan to be completely smoke-free by 2025 - the term 'smoke-free' being officially recognised by the government in reference to a stage where a maximum of five percent of the population are smokers.

The Oxfordshire Tobacco Control Strategy was first announced in February 2020, just before the pandemic began, with the council saying smoking remained the 'single greatest cause of death' in Oxfordshire.

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At the time, Azhar said the strategy would be a 'step change' in how smoking was treated in the county, and that it would include introducing more smoke-free spaces, supporting smokers to quit, regulating tobacco products and continuing existing prevention work.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: UK News, News, Smoking

Jess Hardiman
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