Annex 2: Public opinion |
1. The Office of National Statistics carries out
a multi-purpose survey called the Omnibus Survey to provide data
to Government departments and other public bodies. The survey
is carried out most months. The results for 2004 were used to
create a picture of public attitudes towards smoking in public
places and restrictions thereon.
2. 64% of respondents supported restrictions on smoking
in pubs, an increase from previous years (56% in 2003, 48% in
1996). When asked in more detail about smoking restrictions, 47%
thought that pubs should be mainly non-smoking with smoking allowed
in designated areas, while only 16% thought that pubs should be
mainly smoking with designated non-smoking areas. 31% thought
that smoking should not be allowed anywhere, a significant increase
in the figure from the previous year (20%).
3. Choosing Health referred to the findings
of an Opinion Leader Research (OLR) survey, which, it said, demonstrated
that people "do not [
] believe that this [protecting
workers from SHS] requires a complete ban in all licensed premises".
The survey was published in June 2004 and was commissioned by
the King's Fund. However, the research does not seem explicitly
to support this contention. 68% of respondents thought that a
ban on smoking in workplaces, including pubs, bars and restaurants,
would be the most effective way to reduce the health risks of
smoking. There was no question inquiring whether or not people
believed that something less than a complete ban is necessary.
4. ASH has pointed to other surveys to demonstrate
that public support for a ban on smoking in public is substantial
and growing. A poll conducted for ASH by BMRB (the British Market
Research Bureau) in July 2005 asked: "The Government has
announced plans to make most enclosed public places smokefree
from 2008. Would you support a proposal to make ALL enclosed workplaces,
including pubs and restaurants, smokefree?" It found that
73% of respondents agreed with the proposition (although support
was only 42% among smokers). This confirms the findings of a MORI
poll of April 2004, which found that 54% strongly supported the
introduction of legislation similar to that in Ireland, with 25%
tending to support it (79%, therefore, being broadly in favour).
5. ASH has also commissioned surveys from YouGov
which reinforce the picture of increasing public support for a
ban on smoking in public. The way in which the question is framed
is important; respondents can be asked whether or not they support
the introduction of a ban on smoking in all public places and
workplaces, including pubs and bars; or they can be given a list
of public places and workplaces and asked which they think should
be smoke-free. When YouGov posed the latter question in August
2005, only 41% of respondents indicated that pubs and bars should
be smoke-free. However, another YouGov survey conducted in December
2005 asked both questions. In response to the first, more general
question, around 70% of respondents supported a comprehensive
ban (71% in England and Scotland, 70% in Wales and 78% in Northern
Ireland). When the second, so-called 'à la carte' question
was posed, the number of respondents choosing pubs and bars as
places which should be smoke-free was slightly (but not significantly)
lower: 66% in England, 70% in Scotland, 67% in Wales and 71% in
Northern Ireland. This indicates firstly that the phrasing of
the question affects the results, but also that there is now a
substantial majority of opinion in favour of a comprehensive ban.
Moreover, opinion is clearly moving very swiftly in favour of
a comprehensive ban; support which was at 41% in August 2005 has
become 66-70% in the space of four months.
6. The Chairman appeared on BBC Radio 4's You
and Yours to participate in a phone-in discussion on smoking
in public. The BBC subsequently produced an analysis of the responses
to the discussion from members of the public.
Over a two-week period, the producers of the programme received
over a thousand e-mails, telephone calls and letters. Of these
responses, 60% were in favour of a comprehensive ban. Only 22%
favoured no ban. There was no support for the Government's proposals
for a partial ban. Some respondents also expressed concern that
the Government's proposals would widen health inequalities. One
wrote "This policy will add to health inequalities between
rich and poor as most pubs that don't serve food are situated
within the poorest communities".
7. Responses to opinion polls clearly depend on the
questions which are asked. However, what is clear is that there
is a trend of growth in public support for the idea of a comprehensive
ban on smoking in public places and workplaces. The Committee
has also heard from the Director of ASH that public support in
the UK is currently higher than it was in Ireland prior to the
introduction of the smoking ban there.
ASH has also pointed out that support for a ban in New York was
only 30% when it was introduced. Yet New York and the Republic
of Ireland have successfully implemented a ban on smoking in public.
142 Ev 119, Volume III. Back
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