Smokers across south London sparked up at work and in the pub for the last time yesterday as the ban on smoking in enclosed public places begins today.

The new law, which came into effect at six o'clock this morning, is intended to stop people breathing in second-hand smoke.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland already have similar bans in place.

Many venues held farewell events for the final night of smoking on Saturday, while local authorities are preparing to enforce the ban with enforcement officers patrolling the boroughs handing out fines.

The new law means that anyone caught lighting up illegally could be fined £50 - which could be reduced to £30 if it is paid within 15 days.The figure rises to £200 if an individual is prosecuted and convicted by a court.

Businesses failing to comply with the ban could be hit with fines of up to £2,500.

A legal challenge to the ban has been launched at the High Court by Freedom To Choose, which says the change in the law contravenes the European Convention on Human Rights.

Many pubs and bars have been worried about a decline in sales following the ban but a survey by the Campaign for Real Ale suggested England's 6.2 million regular drinkers are likely to go out to pubs and bars more often after the ban.

Its study also found that 840,000 people who currently do not go to the pub said they would do so after smoking was made illegal.

How did you celebrate you last cigarette in a public place? Let us know by writing your comments below.