Smokers get carrot... not the big stick!

MARK NICHOLLS The countdown to smoke-free England got under way in Norfolk yesterday as local authorities and stop smoking specialists outlined the impact of the new legislation at an exhibition in Norwich.

MARK NICHOLLS

The countdown to smoke-free England got under way in Norfolk yesterday as local authorities and stop smoking specialists outlined the impact of the new legislation at an exhibition in Norwich.

The event at the Forum targeted pubs, clubs, restaurants, businesses, care homes and other venues where smoking will be prohibited when the new law comes into effect at 6am on July 1.

Taxi drivers, people who run church halls, hotels and other public locations were also targeted at the Smokefree Norfolk event, which included representatives of several district councils from across the county, the trading standards department and the Norfolk Stop Smoking Service.

As well as leaflets, stands were giving away personal ashtrays to visitors for their cigarette ends.

Among those attending in search of information was Vince Bassi, who is responsible for health, safety and social responsibility at the Royal Mail in Norfolk.

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He said: "We are here to make sure we comply with the legislation for July 1 and also see how we can help both smokers and non-smokers and also prevent passive smoking. We have more people who smoke on our night shifts, when there are less managers about, so we are looking at ways in which we can offer the most amount of help but in a way that will benefit them and the organisation."

He was joined by union official Melly Hill from the CWU branch who emphasised that the company and the union were working closely to ensure the legislation was introduced and adhered to but also that workers got the support they needed to stop smoking in the workplace.

Ivan Clark, Great Yarmouth Borough Council's smoke-free workplace co-ordinator, said advice was being offered to ensure people complied with the law.

But the clear message from local authorities was that they were keen to offer support and educate people on compliance rather than enforcement.

Nationally, smokers are being asked not to smoke in their own homes to protect staff from a local council.

Health and safety officers at Liverpool City Council have drawn up plans to request residents not to smoke at least half an hour before their staff visit and to open windows and not light up during a home visit.

And a new report says that many pubs will not have outside shelters in place by the time the smoking ban comes into force. Planning red tape and confusion over the new rules are behind the delays, according to The Publican magazine.

Over the next few days, the EDP will be looking at various aspects of the new smoke-free legislation and its impact.