You vote to outlaw secondhand smoke
Sunday sun readers have voted overwhelmingly to stub out secondhand smoke.
Last week, we asked you to give us your views on smoking in public places by completing our survey.
And, out of those of you who replied, a whopping 92 per cent believe all workplaces and public places should be smoke-free.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, hospitals and health centres are top of your list for places where smoking should be banned.
Those premises should be fume-free, according to 98pc of you.
That was followed by offices and shopping centres at 92pc, restaurants and cafes at 91pc, cinemas at 87pc, pubs at 81pc, and other places offering public entertainment at 80pc. And 78pc said bingo halls should be smokeless, while 73pc would like to see it outlawed in nightclubs too.
Only 3pct said no venues should be smoke-free. A law to make all workplaces - including public places such as pubs and clubs - smoke free was supported by 85pc of the respondents.
The findings, based on questionnaires returned by 198 people around the region, were welcomed by the Smoke Free North East campaign, Fresh.
Ailsa Rutter, acting director of Fresh, said: "We are absolutely delighted with the Sunday Sun survey results, which prove that the vast majority of the general public fully support all measures to protect people from secondhand smoke. We urge the Government to take action."
Smoke Free North East wants to see a total ban on smoking in all public places.
Last November, the Government's White Paper on Public Health announced plans to make most enclosed public areas, including offices and factories, smoke-free.
But it would still allow smoking in private clubs where members voted to allow it, and in pubs that do not serve prepared food.
In the North East, which has a higher percentage of private working men's clubs than other areas of the country, many places would escape the ban, say health campaigners.
Many such premises are in the most disadvantaged communities with the poorest health, they point out.
An earlier, more extensive survey of the North East - conducted for Fresh - revealed that three out of four people would support smoke-free workplaces for everyone.
That survey questioned 1202 people from across the region by telephone. Of the respondents, 21pc were smokers and 79pc were non-smokers, 33pc of whom were former smokers.
The Fresh campaign is funded by the region's primary care trusts and is linked to an alliance of health, public sector and community organisations.
Smoke Free North East aims to reduce the impact of smoking in the region by reducing exposure to secondhand smoke and helping smokers to stop by educating people about the harmful effects of tobacco.
It also wants to reduce the supply of tobacco to children.
Bid to ban cigarette sales to teenagers
A group of backbench MPs is calling on the Government to raise the age at which teenagers can buy cigarettes.
Labour's Jeff Ennis has tabled an early-day motion calling on the minimum age to be increased from 16, as it is at the moment, to 18.
The bill already has the backing of 47 members of Parliament.
He said he decided to raise the issue after learning in the last House of Commons that ministers were not planning to change the minimum age at which teenagers can lawfully buy cigarettes or rolling or pipe tobacco.
"I thought it was something that we definitely ought to be considering doing. I think it's an issue that is of public concern," he said.
Mr Ennis also said that it would "make sense" for the age to be the same for alcohol and tobacco.
He said: "We are taking all these measures to crack down on smoking in public places, yet we still allow 16-year-olds to buy cigarettes. It is a nonsense. We are stopping 16-year-olds from buying knives and we should be doing our best to stop them from buying cigarettes."
A spokesman for the Department of Health said: "We are already making progress on getting young people to stop smoking.
"There has been a decrease in smoking prevalence among 11 to 15-year-olds from 13 per cent in 1998 to a current rate of 9pc.
"Although more needs to be done, the success reflects the action taken by the Government in its comprehensive tobacco control strategy, including measures to ban tobacco advertising and hard-hitting campaigns to halt the dangers of smoking."