At 6am yesterday (1 July 2007), the Health Act 2006 came into force, making it illegal to smoke in virtually all enclosed public places and workplaces.
Shops, offices, factories, pubs, cafes, restaurants, membership clubs, public transport, and work vehicles used by more than one person are all covered by the smokefree legislation.
Health secretary Alan Johnson said: "I am thrilled that my first major announcement as health secretary enacts the single most important public health legislation for a generation. This legislation means that thousands of lives will be saved and the health of everybody will be protected.
"Support for a smokefree England is strong, with almost almost 80% of the public backing the legislation. The vast majority of people who do smoke say they want to give up. Over time, this legislation will result in some 600,000 fewer smokers. A smokefree England will help provide a supportive environment for those who want to quit.
"We have worked hard over the last seven months to ensure that everyone is aware of the new law, how it affects them and what they need to do. Support has been provided to businesses and individuals by the Department of Health and local councils and we are confident that England is ready.
"But we are not stopping here. Hot on the heels of the smokefree legislation, on October 1st 2007, we will be raising the legal minimum age for buying tobacco from 16 to 18 years old. Smoking is dangerous at any age, but the younger people start, the more likely they are to become lifelong smokers and to die early. The law change demonstrates our determination to protect people from the harmful effects of tobacco.
"I would like to thank everyone, from health and business groups to the leisure and hospitality industry, for their involvement and support in the Smokefree England campaign and for helping to make a smokefree England a reality."