Cabinet split on smoking delays health bill

The government’s health improvement bill has been delayed amid reports of a Cabinet row over the proposed anti-smoking legislation.

The row between Cabinet ministers erupted over proposed exemptions to a smoking ban in England.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt had proposed banning smoking in all clubs and pubs, but allowing some pubs that did not serve food to operate sealed “smoking rooms”, where bar staff did not work.

However, Defence Secretary John Reid, whom Ms Hewitt replaced as Health Secretary, wants the government to stick to the proposals he wrote in Labour’s election manifesto.

This smoking ban included exemptions for pubs that did not serve food and private members clubs.

Other Cabinet ministers, including Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, are believed to have been in favour of a total smoking ban. However, there were reports on Wednesday that Ms Jowell had given support to Ms Hewitt’s plans.

A spokesperson from the Department of Health admitted that no deal had been reached on the smoking ban and said that discussions were continuing.

Liberal Democrats health spokesperson Steve Webb said: “The government’s proposals on smoking in public places are hopelessly confused. It looks like the government’s plans are being drawn up on the back of a fag packet.”


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

27 October 2005
Government to introduce partial smoking ban
The government has announced plans to introduce a partial smoking ban, following reports of a Cabinet row over the proposals. The plans, introduced as part of the Health Improvement Bill, will see smoking banned in all public places in England, but there will be exemptions for pubs, which do not serve food and private members clubs.
02 February 2006
Free vote for MPs on smoking ban
MPs will be allowed a free vote on proposals to introduce a smoking ban in England, including an option to introduce a total ban. MPs will have three options to choose from when the vote takes place at the report stage of the Health Bill in the Commons later this month.
02 April 2014
Wales Could Restrict The Use Of E-Cigarettes In Public Places
New measures to address some of Wales' major public health challenges, including high levels of drinking and smoking, are being put forward by the Welsh Government today.
16 November 2004
Limited public smoking ban doesn't go far enough, says BMA
The government's pledge to ban smoking in certain public places in England does not go far enough and current proposals may be difficult to enforce, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.
29 November 2005
MPs set to debate smoking plans
MPs will debate government plans to introduce a partial smoking ban in England and Wales, when the legislation returns to the House of Commons for its second reading today. The Health Bill includes proposals to introduce a smoking ban in public places, but with exemptions for pubs and bars, which do not serve food and private members’ clubs.