Wales politics

Fewer smokers in Wales since ban in enclosed public spaces

Man smoking Image copyright PA

There are 94,000 fewer smokers in Wales since a ban on lighting up in enclosed public places came into force 10 years ago, Welsh Government data shows.

Sunday marks a decade since the law came in and 19% of adults in Wales now smoke compared to 24% before the ban.

There are also 6% fewer teenage boys and 14% fewer teenage girls smoking.

Campaign charity Ash Wales said there had been a "major cultural shift" but smokers' group Forest said the ban had hit pubs and clubs.

The only group that saw an increase in smokers was the unemployed, where the level has risen from 41% to 43% in the last 10 years.

Ash Cymru said other measures had contributed to the fall in smoking, such as the ban on sales from vending machines, uniform packaging, and the rise in the age limit to buy tobacco from 16 to 18.

Chief executive Suzanne Cass said: "The smoking ban has resulted in the most positive improvement in the nation's health in decades.

"The significance of this legislation should not be underestimated.

"Thousands more children now live in a smoke-free home, and hundreds of thousands of people are no longer subjected to the deadly effects of passive smoking."

Image copyright PA
Image caption About 141,000 people in Wales use e-cigarettes

Ms Cass also said she supported the increased use of e-cigarettes, with 141,000 users in Wales, saying they are "95% less harmful than traditional cigarettes".

The charity's research showed 81% of people in Wales supported the ban - including three quarters of smokers themselves.

However, in its own survey of 1,000 people, pro-smoking group Forest found 58% of people think pubs and private members' clubs should be allowed to provide well-ventilated smoking rooms, with 37% opposed.

Forest director Simon Clark said: "The suggestion that the smoking ban is hugely popular has been exposed as a myth.

"The smoking ban hit pubs and working men's clubs really badly."

He called on the Welsh Government to commission an independent review on the full impact of the ban including public health, the hospitality industry and local communities.

It will comment on the figures on Monday.

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