SOUTH Somerset District Council's environmental health team have been reflecting on a year of peaks and troughs exactly a year to the date of the smoking ban.

The team has totted up visits to over 1300 businesses across the district since the law came into force in July 2008.

Stewart Brock, Smokefree Lead at the district council said: "We've certainly come a long way and, one year on, our residents will be really feeling the benefits of a smokefree environment.

A report published today stated that 400,000 people nationally have quit smoking since the introduction of the ban - a figure which, if transferred to South Somerset's population, could mean over 1250 smokers have kicked the habit locally."

In May councillors were disappointed when lorry, van and taxi drivers were seen flouting the new laws.

Two £50 fixed penalty notices were issued and disciplinary action was taken by transport bosses.

Stewart added: "We were disappointed when we caught drivers smoking in their vehicles but we concentrated on educating them about where they may smoke, and where they must not.

We always said we would take the softly softly approach unless we could see no effort to comply, and all in all, the approach has been effective."

Cllr Ric Pallister, the council's portfolio holder for housing, environmental health and inclusion, is pleased with the results.

He said: "The new smokefree legislation is just one of the tools that the Government has deployed in an attempt to improve the health of the nation for the benefit of all our citizens.

"No, this measure won't solve all of the issues surrounding smoking but it has already started to make a huge difference - both in terms of health and in terms of beginning a trend that discourages the take-up of smoking."