The British government lacks the "political courage" to impose a total ban on smoking in public places, according to anti-smoking campaigners.

The Scottish executive published the full results of a consultation this week, which showed overwhelming support for a ban on smoking in public places.

The report stated that 80 per cent of Scots support a ban, and recent surveys have suggested that similar numbers in England support a smoking ban in confined public places, according to the Guardian newspaper.

However, health secretary John Reid elected last month to introduce a more limited smoking ban in England as part of a public health white paper. Scotland will ban smoking in enclosed public places by 2006.

Lobby group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said the decision to introduce a partial ban showed a lack of "political courage" by the government and pledged to continue to lobby on the issue.

Under government plans, private clubs and establishments serving only cold foods will be exempt from the ban, despite much clamour from healthcare professionals and trade unions.

The London mayor, Ken Livingstone, has signed up to a smoking ban for the capital and Liverpool and Manchester councils are planning to outlaw smoking in confined public places.

ASH is calling on the Labour Party to include plans for a future total ban in its election manifesto.

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