New research published to mark World No Tobacco Day (31 May 2007) predicts major lifestyle changes when England goes smokefree on 1 July. Published by two of the UK's leading respiratory charities, Smokefree England: We're holding our breath is the latest survey to predict a significant cultural shift when the new health measures come into effect.

The report from the British Thoracic Society and Action on Smoking and Health finds that one quarter of smokers aged 18-24 are intent on giving up smoking before 1 July 2007 and a further 25% plan to quit by July 2008. This compares with only one in five (19%) of over 55s who intend to quit between now and July 2008. London is leading the drift away from smoking as 40% of smokers in the capital say they intend to quit within a year of England going smokefree.

The report also forecasts a change in the atmosphere in pubs that goes beyond air quality. One adult in four expects to go to the pub more often after the change in the law and the trend is highest among women and 25-45 year olds. Drawing from evidence in Scotland, Ireland and New York, all of which have had smokefree bars for some time, the authors predict a slower, more civilised style of drinking with a fall in alcohol sales offset by a rise in food sales.

Fewer than one in ten said they would attend pubs or restaurants less often.

Martin Dockrell, lead author of the report said,

'We are only just beginning to understand some of the health and social benefits that will come with smokefree legislation. This is developing a real head of steam with support edging up towards 80%. Even smokers are coming round to our way of thinking with almost 40% supporting the ban and only 42% opposing it. What is really startling is that tobacco giants have been targeting what they call "Cosmocrats", young cosmopolitan trends setters who they hope will keep their brands fashionable yet this is precisely the group most intent on quitting.'

Dr Lawrence McAlpine, Deputy-Chair of the BTS Tobacco Committee said,

'With almost 4 million smokers in England intending to quit in the first year of this momentous law, the potential health gain is enormous. This is a major one off opportunity and the NHS needs to be poised to really drive smokefree home this summer.'

Further opinion research from Asthma UK reveals that a massive 44% of adults with asthma in England - over 1.5 million people - currently avoid going to pubs and restaurants because of second-hand smoke. This is in stark contrast to the situation in Scotland, where 33% of people with asthma now go out to pubs and restaurants more frequently, following the implementation of smokefree legislation last year. The number of people with asthma exposed to second-hand smoke at work in Scotland has also dropped dramatically from 24% in 2006 to 6% in 2007.

Mikis Euripides, Assistant Director of Policy & Public Affairs at Asthma UK added, 'Smokefree legislation is clearly great news for people with asthma and good news for business too. 82% of the 4.1 million people with asthma in England tell us that other people's cigarette smoke triggers their asthma and many cannot go out to pubs and restaurants without the fear of a serious asthma attack. For these people, 1 July cannot come soon enough and many will be counting down the days.'


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