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.

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt had originally proposed introducing sealed “smoking rooms” in pubs, where staff would not work, while other members of the Cabinet had reportedly favoured a total smoking ban.

However, following days of discussions, it was agreed that the government would revert to the measures originally proposed in the election manifesto by former Health Secretary John Reid.

Under the proposals, anyone who defies the ban will face a £50 fine.

The ban would come into force from the summer of 2007 – 18 months earlier than previously planned.

Ms Hewitt defended the proposals today, stressing that she did not threaten to resign in the row over the proposals. She said: “I am proud to be Health Secretary and I am proud to be introducing a Bill that is going to make such a huge difference to the health of our country.”

The bill also includes proposals to review the anti-smoking legislation after three years. Ms Hewitt said that further consultations would take place on plans to protect bar staff in pubs where smoking is allowed. This could see the reintroduction of the idea of sealed “smoking rooms”, which Ms Hewitt had previously proposed.

The proposals have been greeted with criticism from anti-smoking campaigners. James Johnson, Chairman of the British Medical Association said that the government had “thrown away the opportunity of a lifetime to protect the public’s health”.

Scotland is due to introduce a smoking ban in all enclosed public places from March next year, while earlier this month a similar ban was announced for Northern Ireland, which is due to come into effect in 2007.


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

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.
10 November 2004
Scottish executive backs smoking ban
The Scottish executive has today confirmed that it will seek a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places. In order to enforce the ban, pubs and restaurants that fail to enforce the law will face fines up to a maximum of £2,500.
20 June 2005
Government launches consultation on smoking proposals
The government is to begin consultation on proposals to ban smoking in most public places in England. The government hopes that the consultation will lead to a Bill being introduced in the autumn. The ‘Choosing Health’ Public Health White Paper published last November, unveiled proposals to ban smoking in all enclosed public spaces and workplaces.
28 April 2005
BMA reinforces call for UK-wide smoking ban
The British Medical Association (BMA) has reinforced its call for a UK-wide ban on smoking in public places, with the publication of a report which, it claims, will “counter the myths” generated by opponents to the ban.
01 December 2003
BMA backs workplace smoking ban proposals
The British Medical Association's (BMA) organisation in Scotland has backed calls for legislation to banning smoking in the workplace in order to "protect" employees and reduce the number of "needless deaths from tobacco in Scotland".