|Action on Smoking and Health has warmly welcomed the welcomed the Health Select Committee’s report on smoking in public places. The Committee calls Government proposals to introduce a smoking ban that exempts ‘drink only’ pubs ‘unfair, unjust, inefficient and unworkable’.
The Committee report (‘Smoking in Public Places’ : HC 485-1) says that all workers, including bar staff, deserve protection from the dangers of second hand smoke. The Government accepts that workers should not be exposed to a hazard but at the same time excludes those most at risk from protection. Exemptions will also undermine the Government’s goal of reducing health inequalities as drink only pubs are concentrated in deprived areas.
In their report, MPs conclude that a comprehensive ban would be easier to implement and enforce. Exemptions would undermine the Govertnment’s alcohol strategy by encouraging binge drinking.
Commenting, ASH Director Deborah Arnott said:
“The Health Select Committee report tears away the last shreds of justification for the Government’s partial smokefree ban.
The report shows conclusively that continuing to allow smoking in pubs that do not serve food and in membership clubs would increase health inequalities and leave many of the most vulnerable workers still exposed to secondhand smoke. The report also shows that there is strong public support for a comprehensive smokefree law – more support in England than in Ireland before the highly successful smokefree law was introduced there.
It has been clear for some time that most MPs now support a comprehensive smokefree law. If the Government cannot find the nerve or common sense to introduce its own amendment to the current Health Bill, then it should at least give MPs a free vote on removing the proposed exemptions when the Bill comes back to the Commons in January for its Report Stage. The unanimous Select Committee report makes this an all Party, House of Commons matter. Let MPs now debate the evidence and decide for themselves.”