Health organizations from North America and Europe launched a major effort Friday to have smoking banned on virtually all domestic and international flights in the world by the year 2000 or earlier.

"The liberation of the traveling public has begun," said Ken Kyle, spokesman for the Canadian Cancer Society. Kyle, along with health organization officials from the United States, France, and Belgium, met this week in Ottawa and established an informal coalition that will lobby individual governments and multilateral organizations such as the International Civil Aviation Organization to adopt smoke-free flights.The key, according to the group, is to start with domestic flights before extending the campaign to overseas travel. Kyle said a majority of the traveling public already prefers non-smoking flights.

The group credits the Canadian government with starting the movement toward smoke-free travel. Canada banned smoking on all domestic flights of less than two hours in 1988. It enacted legislation banning all domestic smoking flights in mid-1990.