128. Finally, a successful ban requires strong and
committed political leadership. In the Republic of Ireland, the
then Minister of Health, Micheál Martin TD, made the introduction
of a comprehensive ban on smoking the centrepiece of his tenure
of the Department of Health and Children, and engaged with a wide
variety of bodies in order to secure and promote the legislation.
Political support for a smoking ban in the Republic of Ireland
is in stark contrast to the approach of the UK Government which
has been muddled and vacillating. Policy towards the control of
smoking in public places and workplaces has been a litany of good
intentions undermined by faint-heartedness. The strong public
health message embodied by Smoking Kills, the White Paper
of 1998, has been hedged about with so many qualifications and
exemptions that the legislation to protect non-smokers from the
harmful effects of secondhand smoke has lost its clarity of purpose.
Nor has the Government chosen to represent the ban on smoking
primarily as an issue of worker protection, as was done in the
Republic of Ireland, but instead as a more nebulous 'public health'
measure. As a result of this failure of leadership, the Chief
Medical Officer, who admitted that he considered resigning over
the issue, described the Government's legislation as putting "Britain
among the laggards of public health policy-making internationally
rather than the global leaders".
129. We conclude
that there are four key components to achieving widespread compliance:
- an adequate level
of public support;
- clarity and simplicity
in the regulations governing a ban;
- a framework of penalties which
adequately and appropriately target those who fail to comply with
the law, in particular those who deliberately flout the law;
- strong and committed political
last three of these are sorely lacking in the Government's proposals.
Widespread compliance through a high degree of self-regulation
will only be achieved by a comprehensive ban without exemptions
for any licensed premises or membership clubs.