According to The Times today, the latest British Social Attitudes survey shows that "support for the smoking ban has soared, particularly in Scotland where it was first introduced".
In Scotland, we are told, support for the ban has doubled from 25 per cent in 2004 to 53 per cent.
In England, however, and contrary to the tone of The Times report (because it doesn't mention it), support for the ban has remained static. In fact, less than half the population support the current comprehensive ban.
I have a copy of the BSA report in front of me. It reads:
In Britain as a whole, the majority support a smoking ban, with just seven per cent saying that smoking should be freely allowed. However, the level of restriction, whether a complete ban or simply restricted to certain areas, divides the public.
While just under half (46 per cent) support a ban on smoking in pubs and bars altogether, a similar proportion (41 per cent) prefer limiting smoking to certain areas of pubs and bars.
When we compare levels of support towards the ban in England and Scotland in 2007 we see attitudes were different on either side of the border. While attitudes in England were very similar to those in Britain, Scotland was much more supportive of a complete ban on smoking. There, nearly six in ten supported a complete ban in 2007, while a much smaller proportion (35 per cent) thought that smoking should be allowed in certain restricted areas.
So there we have it. According to the survey, only 46 per cent of people in Britain (2008) and 46 per cent of people in England (2007) support a comprehensive ban. This compares with 58 per cent of people in Scotland (2007).
Perhaps attitudes have changed since then. I don't know. But the idea that a large majority of people in Britain/England are enthusiastic supporters of a ban in every pub and bar is demonstrably false.
I will explore the difference between Scotland and England later. In the meantime you can read The Times story HERE.