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Forest slams call for new rules on smoking outside pubs and cafes if government relaxes lockdown regulations

Forest has criticised an MP who called for new rules on smoking if the government decides to relax the lockdown on pubs, cafes and restaurants with outside seating.

Mark Pritchard, Conservative MP for The Wrekin, said restrictions would be necessary to consider the safety of non-smokers.

“If cafes, restaurants and pubs with outside areas open next week,” he told the Shropshire Star, “then new rules on smoking in external public areas should be introduced by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

“Outside seating should not be dominated by smokers exposing customers to secondary smoke.”

Forest said further rules governing where smokers could light up were unnecessary and would discriminate against a significant minority of the population, including many regular pub goers.

Director Simon Clark said:

“Cafes, pubs and restaurants should be allowed to choose their own policy on smoking outside.

“Imposing new rules that may reduce the number of customers who are tempted back after the lockdown restrictions have been eased could hinder their ability to get back on their feet.”

He added:

“If Mr Pritchard has evidence that smoking outside poses a risk to non-smokers he should produce it.

“Smokers should obviously be considerate to those around them, but we don’t need more rules to govern our behaviour.”

Clark said the MP may have personal issue with smoking.

“This is a man who, long before the present crisis, complained to fellow MPs that, ‘As a non-smoker, I think there is nothing worse than sitting outside a cafe in London or Shropshire and having my lungs full of somebody else’s smoke, or indeed trying to walk to Parliament and taking in a street full of smokers’ smoke.’

“It is quite wrong for Mr Pritchard to use the Covid crisis as an opportunity to tackle one of his pet hates, especially when there is no risk to the public.”

Update: Smokers’ group hits out at Shropshire MP’s call for beer-garden restrictions if lockdown eased (Shropshire Star, 8 May 2020)

Simon Clark

Mission & Vision



Forest’s mission is to protect the interests of adults who choose to smoke or consume tobacco.


Our key aims and objectives are to:

  • counteract the “denormalisation” of smoking, and smokers
  • prevent further restrictions on the purchase and consumption of tobacco
  • establish closer links with other tobacco-friendly groups at home and abroad
  • build support among consumers of tobacco and other similarly threatened groups
  • highlight the increasingly intrusive nature of Big Government in the lives of private individuals