The UK Government's white paper on public health is an "intrusion" into people's lives, former health minister and deputy chairman of British American Tobacco, Ken Clarke, has said.

"We never in the past have had the Government stepping into people's lifestyles in this way," he told Channel Four News last night.

Fundamentally, Mr Clarke insisted that people should regard risks they choose to take with their health as their own responsibility.

"Of course I accept that the Government's got to give sensible advice to individuals. But I think we live in a society where there is a room for individual responsibility," he said.

"I think this is an absurd extension of the range of the state into people's lifestyles."

With regards to the partial ban on smoking in public places, Mr Clarke said health secretary John Reid had been forced into a plan that he did not initially believe in by "very, very zealous" lobbyists.

However, anti-smoking groups said that the proposals, which fell short of a total ban by allowing smoking in pubs that did not serve food, did not go far enough.
Director of ASH, Deborah Arnott, said this concession "has led to a ridiculous bodge". hda-online

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