The government has slammed pubs for not moving fast enough to implement voluntary controls on smoking
As leading doctors repeated calls for an outright ban on smoking in public places, junior health minister Melanie Johnson said: "We are looking again at the rate of progress in pubs to see how we can take forward the voluntary process."
Praising the decision by the Pizza Hut restaurant chain to implement a total smoking ban, Ms Johnson said pubs need to speed up progress on introducing no smoking areas.
The minister's comments came as the medical profession mounted a direct attack on the government's support for voluntary smoking curbs.
Newly-appointed Health Secretary John Reid believes the voluntary approach embodied in the Public Places Charter is the way forward, a stance known to have the support of Tony Blair.
With the government having gone against the advice of its Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, the leaders of all 13 Royal Colleges of Medicine have written to The Times backing Sir Liam's call for total public ban.
The letter said: "Many workplaces are now smoke free but in the hospitality industry smoke exposure is still very high and poses a particular risk. The current system of self-regulation has failed to protect the majority of staff or customers."
Pizza Hut announces ban on smoking (18 August 2003)