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Forest condemns Welsh Government plans to extend the smoking ban

Thu 16th August, 2018

Forest has condemned plans to extend the smoking ban to all hotel bedrooms and mental health units in Wales.

In a submission to a Welsh Government consultation that closes on Friday 17 August, the smokers' group Forest is critical of proposals to prohibit smoking rooms in mental health units and remove the exemption that allows designated smoking bedrooms in hotels, guesthouses, inns and members' clubs.

According to Forest's submission:

"After being admitted to a mental health unit, some patients, who may be suffering from great anxiety or stress, consider smoking to be one of their few remaining liberties or pleasures.

"A designated smoking room can help vulnerable patients who smoke adapt to an environment that may be very alien to them.

"Denying them the chance to light up in comfort in a designated smoking room is not only unreasonable, it's a curtailment of a freedom they previously enjoyed at home."

In response to the proposal to ban designated smoking bedrooms in hotels, guesthouses, inns, hostels and members’ clubs, Forest wrote:

"If owners and proprietors want to offer bedrooms where guests can smoke they should be allowed to do so. Likewise the designated smoking bedroom policy in members' clubs should be a matter for members not government.

"The 2007 regulations permitted hotels, guesthouses, inns, hostels and members' clubs to provide designated bedrooms where guests could smoke because it was argued that, however briefly, they are a place of residence and should be treated as such.

"Removing the exemption would be an unnecessary and unwelcome imposition on the few remaining businesses that choose to accommodate guests who like to book a bedroom where they can smoke in comfort."

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:

"None of these proposals has anything to do with public health because non-smokers are already very well protected from the exaggerated risks of other people's smoke.

"Extending the smoking ban by prohibiting the few remaining smoking rooms that were exempt from the 2007 regulations is an unwarranted abuse of power.

"We urge ministers to think again and respect the fact that tobacco is a legal product. If adults choose to smoke in full knowledge of the health risks that's a matter for them, not government."

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