Smoking in public places and places of work is now banned in all of Britain with England's entrance into an ever-expanding club of nations that bar the habit.
From 6 am on July 1, all public areas, offices and other enclosed or partially enclosed places of work, and most company vehicles have become no-smoking areas in England.
Individuals will, however, still be able to light up outside buildings, in gardens and in the backyards of eateries.
Ireland became the first European country to impose a smoking ban in March 2004, and since then, Norway, Italy, Malta, Sweden, Latvia, Lithuania, France, Finland and Iceland have followed suit with slightly varying restrictions.
In Britain, public places have been no-smoking areas in Scotland since 2006, and in Wales and Northern Ireland since April 2007.
The European Commission is in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, including restaurants. Cigarette-smoking is responsible for 650,000 deaths a year in the European Union, with a further estimated 80,000 deaths from passive smoking.
Britain's health ministry estimates the annual cost of smoking to the government-run National Health Service at between 1.4 and 1.7 billion pounds.
The legislation is aiming to reduce the exposure of non-smokers to the health risks of smoking, such as lung cancer, and cardiac and respiratory illness. The World Health Organisation classes passive smoking as a carcinogen.
Numerous Britons have been spurred by the prospect of the smoking ban to light their last cigarette, or at least to try quitting.
The market for products to help prospective quitters will this year cross the 100-million-pound level, a 40 percent increase since 2002, according to the market research firm Mintel, and will grow to 140 million pounds in 2011.
Along with the traditional smoking patches and chewing gum, other anti-smoking pro
ducts on offer include an oral spray which sparks nausea were someone trying to quit relapse, a hand gel with tobacco extracts, and even a nicotine drink.
There's even a kit for quitting smoking in two weeks.
According to a medical study, 70 percent of English general practitioners noted increases in consultations aimed at stopping smoking. That figure is at 95 percent in Northern Ireland, 83 percent in Scotland and 79 percent in Wales.
From July 1, all tobacco products -- cigarettes, pipes and shisha waterpipes -- and also certain products without tobacco -- eucalyptus and menthol cigarettes -- are banned in public places, including station platforms, pubs and restaurants.
Those breaking the law will be handled severely -- a smoker caught in the act faces a fine of up to 200 pounds, and businesses that do not uphold the law face fines of up to 2,500 pounds.
Even if certain industries, such as shisha bars and bingo halls, expect to suffer from the new regulations, pubs around the country are looking forward to the ban, a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) said.
"A smoking ban will be beneficial to pubs," said Mark Hastings, the spokesman for the BBPA, which represents 60,000 British pubs.
"It will enable us to bring back people who have been put off by smoking atmospheres, enable us to reach out to the 75 percent of the population who don't smoke and at the same time to retain our smoking customers with outside space."
Indeed, the Mitchells and Butlers chain of pubs said in September that its restaurant activities grew 11 percent in the six months following the smoking ban's introduction in Scotland. Related medicine news :1
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