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Industry blamed over smoking ban delay

10 August 2004

The hospitality industry is being blamed for encouraging young people to take up smoking by delaying moves to become smoke-free.

This was one of the findings of the latest in a long line of reports to the Government calling for a smoking ban at work and in public places.

Going Smoke-Free: The Economic Case, an independent report from chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson, claims a smoking ban in pubs and bars would lead to "far fewer" young people taking up smoking.

The report also claims that a ban would boost business for the hospitality industry rather than harm it, and that many studies which show that going smoke-free is bad for business are poorly researched and often funded by the tobacco industry.

Donaldson claimed creating smoke-free places could save the UK up to £2.7b a year. However, he was able to give only headline figures from the economic study he commissioned as the report remains unpublished.

"The analysis confirms that going smoke-free can help the hospitality industry business, or at least that the effects would be financially neutral," said Donaldson.

"There's no reliable evidence to back up the frequently made assertion that creating smoke-free public places would be bad for business in bars, restaurants and other places of leisure."

But Bob Cotton, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, disagreed: "I don't think there's any evidence that a smoking ban would boost business," he said.

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