Leading medical experts has said that smoking should be banned in beer gardens, parks, open air eating areas of restaurants and outside of school gates sayings that the habit should be seen as abnormal and that tighter controls are imperative for areas where people gather.

The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) said that extending the smoking ban, which was introduced in 2007, to include pubs, parks and entrances to schools in the exclusion zones, would make smoking inconvenient for smokers, which could encourage more people to give up the habit known to be detrimental to health.

The RSPH likewise encouraged authorities to have a more positive view of e-cigarettes and embrace their use in the fight against tobacco smoking.

It said that a public education program is needed so people would be able to distinguish addiction to nicotine, which is present in both tobacco and e-cigarettes, from inhaling dangerous chemicals such as arsenic and tar that are present in tobacco cigarettes.

The RSPH cited a research it commissioned that shows nine in 10 people believed that nicotine in itself was harmful. The RSPH said that the toxins found in tobacco -based products are the ones that cause harm.

It said that smoking exclusion zones could allow the use of e-cigarettes but should prohibit cigarette smoking as this could prompt smokers to use alternative to cigarettes.

A survey for the charity revealed that half of adults were likely to use the outside areas of bars and pubs if the ban was extended and a third of the smokers would resort to using e-cigarettes as a work around for the prohibition of cigarettes.

"Introduction of a smoking exclusion zone around pubs, bars and schools - allowing use of e-cigarettes but not allowing cigarette smoking," the RSPH said in a statement. "If smoking was banned from outside pubs and bars 50% of adults would be more likely to use these areas, and roughly one third of smokers would be more likely to use alternatives to cigarettes such as e-cigarettes or NRT."

In order to distance e-cigarettes from cigarettes, the society urged renaming it to nicotine sticks or vapourisers.

Smokers' lobby group Forest, however, is not amenable with the proposals saying that banning smoking outside of bars and pubs would be discriminatory to those who enjoy smoking. It also said that renaming e-cigarettes is not a good idea.

"The name is part of their appeal," said Forest director Simon Clark. "Calling them nicotine sticks or vapourisers suggests a medicinal product and that misses the point."

Photo: Beraldo Leal | Flickr 

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