As lockdown comes to an end, so too will outdoor smoking for the people of Oxfordshire.

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In a bid to become completely smoke-free by 2025, the county has revealed its plans to ban all smoking outside.

It will be the first place in the whole country to roll out such measures. The plans were agreed upon by public health officials before the start of the pandemic.

The county intends to create more outdoor spaces where people are compelled not to smoke. They are hoping to stomp out cigarette breaks outside offices and factories with plans to create smoke-free areas in outdoor dining spaces.

Ansaf Azhark, Oxfordshire’s public health director, said: “It is not about telling people not to smoke. It is about moving and creating an environment in which not smoking is encouraged and they are empowered to do so.

“But that is not going to happen overnight.”

Dr. Adam Briggs, who is leading the strategy, said: “We have got a condition that is entirely a commercially driven cause of death and disease.

“It is impossible to be on the wrong side of history with tobacco consumption.”

He also drew on figures released by the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, which showed that 90,000 people died from illnesses caused by tobacco consumption last year.

Dr. Briggs has released a report outlining tobacco as the leading cause of preventable deaths in Oxfordshire costing the taxpayer £120 million.

The government will officially name a place smoke-free if less than 5% of its population are smokers.

It has been reported that 12% of Oxfordshire’s population smoke.

Those most likely to smoke are said to be people from poor backgrounds, the homeless, people with mental health struggles, and those from the traveler community.

Dr. Briggs has encouraged councilors from across Oxfordshire to put in requests to make all new pavement licenses smoke-free.

This comes after the council recently denied a request by Andrew McHugh, a member of the health improvement partnership board and a councilor in the Cherwell District, to impose such measures.

Pavement licenses allow bars, cafes, and restaurants to set up tables and chairs outside their establishments.

A pro-smoking group called The Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (Forest) has condemned the proposals.

“It’s no business of local councils if adults choose to smoke, and if they smoke outside during working hours that’s a matter for them and their employer not the council” said the group’s director, Simon Clarke.

Is this a step too far? Or do you agree with Oxfordshire’s strategy?

Image Via Alamy