Major new poll shows public support across UK for comprehensive smokefree law

Friday 30 December 2005

Media Release:  00.01hrs Friday 30th December 2005   


Major New Poll Shows Public Support Across UK for Comprehensive Smokefree Law


  A major new opinion poll which for the first time surveys the general public in all four countries of the United Kingdom reveals that each and every country overwhelmingly backs a new law to end smoking in all workplaces. They also back specific action to ensure that all pubs and bars are smokefree. The news fatally undermines the Government’s claim that exemptions from smokefree legislation for non-food pubs and clubs are needed in England, because the English public will not back the comprehensive law being introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The poll was conducted by polling firm You Gov and commissioned by Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) [1]. Asked if they would support legislation to make all workplaces smokefree, including pubs and restaurants, 72% said yes. The figure for England was 71%, the same as for Scotland. Given a list of specific public places, 67% across the UK said that all pubs and bars should be smokefree by law.  The figure for England was 66% up from 51% in Spring 2004.


Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, Professor Alex Markham, commented:


“Ministers have said again and again that public opinion in England does not support a comprehensive smokefree law. This large and robust poll shows once again that this is just plain wrong. Ask the question any way you like – at least two thirds of the public across the UK would support a ban including pubs and bars. And the level of support in England is much the same as in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


The widely derided exemptions for pubs and clubs must now be dropped from the Health Bill. The experience of other countries shows that smokefree legislation must be comprehensive if it is to be successful.”


ASH Director Deborah Arnott commented:


“This poll must surely be the final decisive piece of evidence that Ministers need to abandon their unpopular and unworkable bodge for English pubs and membership clubs. There is no longer any significant public support for this idea, and a long litany of reasons – from industry, local Government and health experts – showing why it won’t work.


The time has come for Prime Minister Tony Blair to make his position clear. His New Year’s resolution should be to announce that smokefree legislation will be as comprehensive in England as in every other part of the UK. There would be nothing for the Government to lose from this decision, and so much for all of us to gain. Ending smoking in all workplaces would leave an enduring legacy of which any Prime Minister could be proud.” 








Q1.The Government has announced plans to make most public places smokefree. Would you support a proposal to make ALL workplaces, including all pubs and all restaurants smokefree?


  England Scotland Wales N Ireland UK July 05* Jan 05**
  % % % % % % %
Would support such a proposal 71 71 70 78 71 73 75
Would not support such a proposal 24 25 27 18 24 24 23
Don’t know 5 4 4 4 5 3 2


*   BMRB Access Omnibus survey July 2005: 996 respondents GB

** BMRB Access Omnibus survey January 2005: 1003 respondents GB


Q2. Looking at the following list of public places, please tell me how strongly, if at all, you would support or oppose a law to make it smokefree?

% who would support a law to make it smokefree


  England Scotland Wales N Ireland UK
  % % % % %
Hospitals 93 88 93 94 93
Offices 86 86 83 87 86
Taxis 86 86 85 83 85
Restaurants 85 85 87 84 86
Cafes 81 82 81 83 81
Shopping centres 79 80 73 74 79
Residential care homes 68 57 68 76 67
Bus and railway stations 65 68 63 71 65
Pubs and bars 66 70 67 74 67
Hotel rooms 65 61 65 66 69
Covered football stands 60 63 61 76 61
Prisons 41 41 38 45 41




I am now going to read out a list of public places. After each, please tell me how strongly, if at all, you would support or oppose a law to make it smokefree?


Q. 4e Pubs and bars

% who would support a law to make it smokefree


  GB England Scotland Wales
  % % % %
Support 49 51 39 50
Oppose 35 34 46 36


Contact: Ian Willmore   020 8885 3779 (h)  07887 641344 (m)



[1] Interviews were conducted by YouGov using an internet panel survey with residents in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland aged 18 years and over. Sample sizes: England 1,995, Scotland 565, Wales 563, N Ireland 477: Total 3,600. Fieldwork conducted 2-7 December 2005.

[2] Interviews were conducted by MORI face to face with residents in Britain aged 15 years and over. Sample sizes: England 3,453, Scotland 358, Wales 249. Total 4,060. Fieldword conducted 15th April to 4th May, 2004.