Hull North MP votes for total smoking ban

Hull North MP Diana Johnson will support a total ban on smoking in public places, including in 'private' clubs, in today's House of Commons free vote on the Heath Bill.

With lung cancer rates in Hull double the national average for men between the ages of 35 and 64, and figures for coronary hearth disease even more alarming, the Hull North Labour MP believes that the public health case for a total ban outweighs the concerns that have been expressed about the ban by pro-smoking Lobby groups.

Diana Johnson MP said: "Although a total ban that includes 'private' clubs goes slightly further than Labour's 2005 manifesto commitment, I am satisfied that the complete ban is where legislation would eventually take us on the grounds of it being the most workable option.

"The facts about the relationship between smoking, including passive smoking, and cancer, strokes and heart disease are overwhelming. The prize of cutting preventable smoking-related deaths and illnesses is a massive one that must outweigh the concerns about freedom of choice and a 'nanny state'.

"The total ban would be better for Hull people and fairest to the pub and catering industry and those who work in it.. These workers have to earn a living and have little or no choice about the smoke that they have to inhale. Neither should the rest of us have to tolerate other peoples' smoke.

"No-one would support the principles of freedom and choice more than myself, but this should not extend to where the exercise of one person's freedom harms the welfare and freedom of another. Even for smokers themselves, the addictive nature of cigarettes means that they often have little choice and control over their smoking without society taking a lead on the issue.

"For all these reasons and more we should not wait years more to grasp the nettle on smoking. MPs should use this opportunity to take one small step in Parliament that would be a great leap for public health in our country."