A propos of nothing*: Once upon a time, people could smoke in pubs and cafes. This was harmful to them, to others, and generally made the environment pretty unpleasant. But it was the status quo.
Other people smoked regardless of the impact their choice had on you. They smoked around your children, who were breathing in toxic air. The public health implications were huge.
Campaigns were launched to ask people to change their behaviour, to little effect. The then-CMO said “voluntary agreements were not reducing the health risks from passive smoking quickly enough”. Something drastic had to be done.
Enter, the smoking ban. This was hugely controversial - 78% were against it in 2007, shortly after it took effect. Your personal choice was now restricted, for the benefit of other people.
The health effects were immediate. Heart attack rates fell noticeably. Longer-term fewer people will suffer from passive smoking - and with smoking down by almost a half, from smoking itself. Our communal spaces are much more pleasant, too.
Public support has done an about turn. From 78% against to 83% in favour ten years later.
It takes incredible bravery in politics to do something on the face of it so deeply unpopular, but sometimes the evidence tells you action must be taken.
Behaviour change is hard. Asking nicely often doesn't work. Changing the implications of people's choices - to smoke you have to leave the pub and go outside, for instance - gives people a reason to change those choices.
*yes, this is a thinly-veiled thread on LTNs.
Thanks to @JXantheW have realised I misread YouGov support in 2007 - people broadly in favour. But opposition was very vocal and angry: "The anti-smoking fanatics will use the ban to victimise and stigmatise smokers," Forest said. That's language we recognise from LTNs...

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