A NEW initiative targeting smokers on the streets has been rolled out by the local primary care trust amid accusations it infringes on people's civil liberties.
A Stop Smoking Team is taking to the streets of Ealing for the next 40 days as they ask people having a crafty fag to take a carbon monoxide monitor test and then use the counselling and support that is available to kick the habit.
But there are fears the scheme could create further resentment among smokers and could be seen as harassment.
Amarjit Singh, who works in advertising in West Ealing, said: "I'm absolutely outraged and offended. It makes me feel like I'm being harassed.
"I can't smoke in public places due to the smoking ban so I must go out-side for a cigarette, and it looks like I won't be able to do that in peace either. It feels like my civil liberties are being persecuted."
More than two billion fewer cigarettes are estimated to have been smoked since the ban was introduced last year. Almost half million people are believed to have quit and more than 400,000 lives saved, according to the health service.
Phil Robinson, project manager for Ealing Stop Smoking Service, said: "The law to ban smoking in public places was hugely effective, but since then some focus has been lost.
"We want to put it back on the agenda, so 50 per cent of our current activity is about localising our campaign and taking our message direct to smokers.
"We will be focusing on betting shops, transport stops, walk-throughs, shopping centres and leisure areas where most smoking takes place.
"We hope to encourage about 7,500 smokers to take the test either on the street or by contacting our helpline."
In reply to accusations that the project was infringing people's liberties, a trust spokeswoman said: "The campaign aims to offer people help to quit if they want it.
By taking a test they will be able to see how much carbon monoxide they have in their systems, which can act as an incentive to quit.
If someone says no to a test, then there will be no pressure from the Stop Smoking Team, who will simply walk away and try to help someone else instead.