A BILL was launched in the House of Commons this week, which could have a huge influence on the health of people in Wales.
Cardiff North MP Julie Morgan has drawn a high number in the ballot to introduce a Private Member’s Bill, and has chosen to try to change the law on smoking in public places.
Her bill would give the Welsh Assembly power to ban smoking in workplaces, including pubs and restaurants.
If passed it is highly likely that Wales would follow Ireland in bringing in a ban.
For England the Government is proposing a ban, but not until 2008 and not in pubs where food is not served.
The Scottish Executive has already announced its intention to bring in a ban.
The Assembly has already voted in favour of a ban, but does not currently have the power to implement it.
Some people see the prospect of a ban as a step too far.
They believe the so-called “nanny state” is interfering with their individual rights.
The problem is that the right of individuals to smoke stops at the end of their own noses.
This is particularly true in the workplace.
It is estimated that 30 people a year die in Wales through the effects of passive smoking.
People working in pubs, clubs and restaurants are particularly at risk.
Ultimately you can’t require someone, as a condition of their employment, to inhale a substance that is dangerous to their health, when that danger could be easily prevented.
Many people thought the ban in Ireland would be ignored, but it has proved popular.
Even in Italy, where smoking is like an alternative religion, there is a workplace ban.
We may not want a “nanny state”, but this is one issue where nanny knows best.