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A cigar-smoking GP is set to defy a request by Health Secretary John Reid that GPs ban smoking on their property.

Mr Reid is expected to ban smoking on all NHS property in the White Paper on public health and to ask GPs owning their premises to follow suit.

But Dr Tony Grewal, a GP in Hillingdon, Middlesex, said he would refuse the request to stop smoking outside his surgery and added: 'I don't know whether Draconian measures help individuals give up.'

Dr Grewal said he was 'cautious' about the dangers of passive smoking, but was prepared to change his view if presented with 'genuine figures'.

Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson said doctors should be role models for society, but he would not coerce them to stop smoking. 'I would deplore a doctor who smoked in front of a patient,' he said.

New official figures show that more smokers quit in the year to March than ever before and the Government insists it is on track to reach the target of 800,000 quitters by 2006. The statistics ­ based on controversial four-week self-reported quit rate ­ show that 204,900 people gave up between April 2003 and March 2004.

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