News & Comment

MP calls for a change to the smoking ban

Thu 7th July, 2011

Former government minister Greg Knight says he wants to see smokers allowed to light up again on licensed premises.

Writing in the Sun, Knight said the aim of the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign "is not to turn back the clock and repeal the smoking ban - what we want is a refinement".

"In its current form," wrote Knight, "the ban is heavy handed and research by the Save Our Pubs And Clubs Campaign proves it is a significant factor in the record number of licensed premises closing down in recent years.

"Figures show the rate of pubs and clubs folding increased significantly after the smoking ban came in four years ago.

"Some say to change the law would be controversial. But why should it be?

"I am a lifelong non-smoker but I believe in fairness. I do not like the way the current law treats smokers like second-class citizens by making them stand outside to smoke.

"A dedicated smoking room inside pubs and clubs would be a way round this. The present law allows for such an arrangement already - but only on a boat. Isn't that absurd? People who want to light up in a public building on land must go outside, no matter what.

"A dedicated smoking room, where people can congregate to enjoy a cigarette, would not pose health risks to staff as long as it is well ventilated.

"This is a much more civilised option than forcing smokers to stand outside in the rain.In our small towns and villages the local pub is at the heart of the community.

"With more and more closing down, Britain's rural culture is being eroded like never before.In Holland, they tweaked the smoking ban to make it fairer.

"Around 2,000 small bars are now permitted to have smoking rooms. Surely it makes sense that British landlords are allowed to cater for the needs of their customers?

"The Save Our Pubs and Clubs Campaign would like to see a thorough inquiry into the ban and its impact on the licensed industry.

"Loss-leading alcohol sales in supermarkets have affected the pub trade, but this together with the smoking ban has produced a double whammy and left publicans struggling.

"There needs to be a debate in Parliament about whether we should modify the law.It's all very well to defend the terms of the current ban.

"But with pubs closing at an alarming rate, smokers and non-smokers already pay the price of our inappropriate, heavy-handed legislation."

Source: Sun (7 July 2011)

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