A COUNCIL chief said Hartlepool businesses have complied with the smoking ban that was introduced five years ago this weekend.
Smokefree campaign group FRESH says that not only has the North-East seen the biggest drop in smoking nationwide, but it has also shown some of the highest support nationally to make smoking history for children.
The North-East has seen over 97 per cent compliance with smokefree legislation since it was introduced and smoking prevalence has dropped from 29 per cent to 21 per cent, double the national fall from 24 to 20 per cent.
Jane Kett, principal environmental health officer at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: “Although some Hartlepool businesses voiced concerns before the new law came into force, the legislation has proved very popular and compliance levels have been high.
“Businesses in the area have been pleasantly surprised by the way in which the Hartlepool public responded, with few experiencing any problems with compliance, even during the early days of the legislation.
“While some smokers may have been inconvenienced by the new law there are a number of others who are now enjoying the benefits of a smokefree drink or meal.
“One of the biggest public health benefits has been to protect workers from the dangers of second hand smoke.
“Before the legislation was introduced it was estimated that it was causing the deaths of several hundred workers each year, including a significant number in the hospitality industry.
“It will surprise many to learn that this figure is considerably more than the numbers who die from industrial injuries.
“Although enforcement officers spent a lot of time raising awareness when the legislation was first brought in, businesses quickly took the message on board and achieving a ‘smokefree Hartlepool’ proved not to be the difficult task many were fearing.”
FRESH is now working on next steps in the fight against tobacco in partnership with ASH, the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK with the Plain Packs Project campaign.
Together they are supporting plain, standardised packaging of tobacco products to make them less attractive to young people.
To pledge your support to the Plain Packs Project campaign and for your say in the Government’s public consultation, sign up at www.freshne.com/plainpacks