Should smoking be banned in parks and public places? That is the idea mooted this week by the London Health Commission and one which is being looked at by councils across London.

The idea is to introduce bylaws making it an offence to light up, all supposedly with a view to protecting public health.

But why ban smoking when there are far greater threats to public health in our midst? The truth is that smoking is no longer that cool among the younger generation. Even TV's Sherlock has given it up. And in any case, the only person it may harm is the person smoking.

If politicians are really intent on protecting public health then look no further than the alcohol epidemic.

Less than two per cent of deaths are attributable to excess alcohol intake. But that hides a much darker truth.

Violent crime is the biggest consequence of alcohol and the greatest risk to public health. According to Alcohol Concern, in around half of all annual violent incidents – that’s more than 900,000 incidents - it is likely the offender was under the influence of alcohol.

Alcohol related crime costs us £11 billion a year in policing costs. Nearly 10,000 people a year were victims of drink-driving in 2011. Total cost to this country of cleaning up the mess left behind by alcohol equals £21 billion a year.

A ban on alcohol would be impossible and ridiculous. People have as much right to drink as they do to smoke, so long as it does not infringe on others.

But politicians’ focus on smoking is diverting attention and resources away from the real issue: too many pubs, clubs and bars with late licences and a popular culture among young people which encourages excessive drinking.

What do you think? Join the debate by commenting below