How to stop worrying and love the smoking ban

On 1 July the smoking ban comes into force in England, presenting health editors and writers with one of the biggest, if not the biggest, health-related stories of the year.

The purpose of this guide is to erect signposts and provide information for journalists who are considering covering the ban.

It’s all here. Health information, contacts, a chronology of smoking and interviews with key anti-smoking activists will provide the details you’ll need to do justice to the story.

The sheer breadth of the potential coverage is both welcome and daunting. Broad themes such as the nation’s likely improvement in physical and mental health, or the economic benefits for the individual and the state, offer plenty of scope.

But the stories narrow down to include personal tales of everything from extreme quitting to the publican who bought a doubledecker bus to use as a smoking shelter.

Demanding editors are likely to be demanding evidence to support theories of lower death rates, failing pubs, smoker stress and so on.

But, as two health editors who have already covered the story in Scotland and Ireland report, the hard facts won’t immediately appear.

What is obvious is that with 10 million smokers in the country, Britain’s biggest health problem (as defined by the Government) is going to be thrust into the spotlight as never before.

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