smoking ban
That's according to a new report from the British and American-based think tank the Democracy Institute, which claims to unpick the arguments used to justify such bans.

It comes as the UK Government prepares to review the smoking ban for England - the review is due next year, three years after its introduction.

The report, called Are Public Smoking Bans Necessary, rejects claims of the hard evidence supporting the view that bans benefit health.

For example, it points to several reports that conflict assessments that health is damaged by exposure to secondhand smoke.

This includes the Economic Affairs Committee of the UK House of Lords, which concluded that the risks are "uncertain and unlikely to be large", based on testimonies from experts including Oxford epidemiologist Sir Richard Peto.

And it contradicts studies that say bans reduce rates of smoking overall. The Heath Survey for England, produced by the National Centre for Social Research and other agencies, found smoking actually grew among male smokers in the first year of the ban, from 23% to 24%.

The report also says ventilation can be a benefit, pointing to a study of smoking and non-smoking pubs in Canada.

The report says: "We conclude that none of the reasons offered in defense of public smoking bans provides unequivocal support for such bans."
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