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Ban on Smoking is Not a Magic Wand to Reduce Health Inequalities, UK Campaigners Warn

e in Liverpool, funded by the Primary Care Trust says: "The unfortunate truth is that in areas where more people smoke, people trying to quit are surrounded by friends and family who smoke, which can make quitting even more difficult." Fag End's community-based services are credited with helping most of the 17,500 Liverpudlians (4% of the local population) who have quit smoking over the last three years. But its 50% success rate is much lower in Speke, Breckfield and Granby - three of the most deprived wards in England.

Ailsa Rutter is director of Fresh, a campaign funded by PCTs in the north-east, which has the highest number of smokers in England. She says, "Tobacco remains the number one driver of health inequality," she says. "We must keep MPs engaged." Other measures she wants to see introduced include banning point-of-sale advertising for cigarettes, removing restrictions on the sale of nicotine replacement therapies, and for customs and excise and the police to seriously tackle tobacco smuggling.

The Department of Health has allocated 112m to PCTs for smoking cessation services over the next two years. This includes an additional 10m for PCTs based in the most disadvantaged areas.

Some are genuinely concerned, like the 55-year-old Prest, working as a steward in a club in Easington, a relatively deprived area.

He himself would try to quit. "If I'm working by myself, I can't afford to leave the bar unattended while I nip out for a smoke," he explains. "I don't really have a choice."

But that is not the point. Not all his customers are so keen: "Some have told me that they will go round each other's houses instead of coming here. I expect a couple of clubs in the area will have to close," he says.

And worse, he adds, I've been told I'll get a 250 fine and the business will be fined 2,000 if anyone is found smoking here. But what happens if someone comes in and I don't see them, or if I've
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