The European Union’s health chief will press next week for all countries in the bloc to ban smoking in public places.
The paper will invite governments, NGOs, consumers and the tobacco industry to come forward with their views and proposals
by 31 May. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou is set to release a draft paper on smoke-free environments on Tuesday.
An EU source said that legislation is not being ruled out, and that the Commission favours the approach taken by Ireland.”
In March 2004 Ireland became the first country in the world to introduce a nationwide ban on smoking in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed workplaces.
Italy, Sweden and Scotland have since introduced similar legislation with the rest of Britain set to follow suit later this year.
Others, including Belgium and France, favour limited legislation. Some EU members, such as Germany, oppose a ban.
According to EU figures, 650,000 Europeans die each year from tobacco-related diseases. Nineteen thousand non-smokers also die from passive smoking each year.