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British Lawmakers Vote to Ban Smoking in Public Places


Britain's lower house of parliament has voted to ban smoking in all enclosed public places in England.

If approved by the (upper) House of Lords, the blanket ban would prohibit smoking in bars, restaurants, private clubs and workplaces. It would go into effect the middle of next year.

Lawmakers had three options - to vote on a blanket ban, a partial ban exempting bars that do not serve food, or a partial ban allowing private clubs to accept smokers.

Intense debate on the issue divided Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party. Mr. Blair voted in favor of an outright ban, coming under criticism from lawmakers who favored a partial ban allowing smokers to light up in private clubs.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have passed similar bans but have not yet implemented them. Wales is set to vote on the issue later this year.

Ireland, Italy, Norway and Sweden also have adopted similar laws.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.