Smokefree Law Coming: But Pub Bodge Cannot Survive

Wednesday 26 October 2005


Media Release:  For Immediate Use, Wednesday 26th October 2005   


Smokefree Law Coming: But Pub Bodge Cannot Survive


The Government has now announced that the Health Improvement and Protection Bill will include a smokefree law, ending exposure to secondhand smoke at work for about 10 million people across England. This is an important step forwards for public health.


But after protracted dithering and delay, the Government has now reverted to John Reid’s pre-election bodged compromise for pubs and private clubs. Many pubs will now stop serving food, damaging the Government’s alcohol strategy. Non-food pubs will be concentrated in poorer areas, making health inequalities even worse. Smoking pubs and clubs will compete with non-smoking pubs creating unfair competition. Club members will be able to vote to damage the health of their staff.


The pub trade will be as angry as the health lobby at this absurdity. The Department of Health received 60,000 replies to its consultation on the issue, and virtually all said that these plans are absurd. Workers in exempted pubs made ill by other people’s smoke will still be able to sue their employers for negligence, citing breaches of the Health and Safety at Work Act. This part of the Health Improvement and Protection Bill faces a rocky Parliamentary road.


ASH Director Deborah Arnott commented:


This Bill will be a big step forwards for public health. If passed into law, it will save thousands of lives every year, as vulnerable people are no longer exposed to dangerous secondhand smoke at work, and as thousands of smokers are encouraged to cut down or quit altogether.


But Dr Reid’s last ditch defence of smoking in pubs and clubs has led to a ridiculous mess. There is no excuse whatsoever for the Government to accept that secondhand smoke is a serious health and safety issue, and then to try to exempt some of the employees most at risk. The Government will also find it impossible to set safe standards for pubs and clubs that still allow smoking.


If the Government cannot find the nerve to do the right thing on this issue, then MPs should be given a free vote on the issue. There is a now a clear Parliamentary majority in favour of a simple, comprehensive end to smoking in all workplaces.”



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Contact: Ian Willmore    020 7739 5902 (w)  07887 641344 (mobile)