A MAYOR is calling for more businesses to apply a smoking ban on their premises.

With one person dying every day in Middlesbrough from smoking-related illnesses, Mayor Ray Mallon says that, just as smokers have the right to choose whether to light up, other people have a right to breathe clean air.

Mr Mallon said: "In a free society, people have the right to choose their own lifestyle - even when it may damage their own health.

"But we have to be clear that no one has the right to damage the health of others, and passive smoking results in an increased risk of smoke-related diseases to the non-smoker.''

More than 160 businesses have signed up to a smoking ban on their premises, with another 40 expected to join.

The mayor said: "The national ban is a huge step forward in improving public health, but this is a critical issue, where every day, indeed every second, counts.

"Action ahead of the ban will help save lives, so I hope that more businesses will seize the initiative and act now to improve the health of their staff, customers and the town."

Businesses taking part in the Smoke Less Middlesbrough initiative are given 12 months to implement a no-smoking policy.

Mr Mallon said: "I am delighted at the number of local businesses who have responded to our initiative so far. They show that Middlesbrough is a town which cares for the health of its residents and visitors."