Smoking: Tenovus calls for outright ban in Wales

A cancer charity has called for the introduction of an outright smoking ban in Wales.

Cardiff-based Tenovus said that after chipping away at smoking in various public places it was time "to think about the bigger question".

The call comes on the day that smoking is banned within the grounds of most Welsh hospitals.

However, the Welsh government said it did not have the power to introduce an outright ban in Wales.

Around 23% of the Welsh population are smokers - the lowest rate since records began, but still above the Welsh government's target of 16% by the end of the decade.

Tobacco is one of the biggest battlegrounds in public health and another milestone has been reached with six of the seven health boards in Wales now deciding to prohibit smoking in their grounds.

The Aneurin Bevan and Cardiff and Vale University health boards have joined four others which already prohibit smoking on their premises.

The remaining health board, Hywel Dda in mid and west Wales, is in the process of developing a ban.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said the move was "the natural next step" in going smoke free.

Last May the board banned smoking at its hospital entrances and from November 2011 the board asked people to only use the smoking shelters on its sites.

"The evidence is clear on the damage and cost associated with smoking addiction," said spokeswoman Dr Sharon Hopkins.

Radical approach

The enforcement of smoke-free regulations varies in different areas - with provision for distressed patients and visitors in designated smoking shelters in the Cardiff and Vale area.

Similar shelters have been dismantled at hospitals in the old Gwent area, where an outright ban is being imposed.

But Richard Pugh, community development manager for Tenovus, has called for a much more radical approach - a total ban on smoking.

"We've tapped away at smoking here, smoking there - stop smoking in cars, in restaurants, in public places," he said.

"Sooner or later we will get to the point where we stop smoking altogether.

"So it's time to think about the bigger question - and let's do it now."

Smoker Steven Simon said he felt it unfair the way smokers were being treated.

"I just think that is the Welsh government and English government put as much effort into running their economies as they do with persecuting smokers we'd be in a far better situation," told BBC Radio Wales.

A Welsh government spokesman said action to tackle the harm caused by smoking remained a priority.

A spokesman said the government's ultimate vision was "of a smoke-free society for Wales, in which the harm from tobacco is completely eradicated."

On Wednesday both the Welsh government and Tenovus will promote their Fresh Start Wales awareness campaign outside City Hall in Cardiff.

The campaign aims to encourage parents and carers not to smoke in cars carrying children.

Stop Smoking Wales will also be available to provide information on its smoking cessation service.