Smoking ban draws closer in Northern Ireland

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Outright ban, Northern ireland, Scotland, Public house, Smoking ban

England is in danger of becoming marginalised as an all-out clampdown on smoking in public places looks increasingly likely elsewhere in the...

England is in danger of becoming marginalised as an all-out clampdown on smoking in public places looks increasingly likely elsewhere in the UK.

Northern Ireland is believed to be ready to join its southern neighbour and Scotland in changing its laws on smoking in public, with government consultation on the issue due to end on March 25.

A recent MORI poll found that 69 per cent of the population agreed with the concept of an outright ban.

However, research carried out in Ulster by pro-smoking group Forest found 53 per cent wanted smoking to continue in pubs.

"We already know what the public would prefer," claimed Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke Association chief executive Andrew Dougal, who is calling for a complete ban.

"We have been inundated with people asking for advice on how to take part in the consultation."

But the Federation of the Retail Licensed Trade (FRLT), which represents Northern Ireland's licensed trade, claimed an outright ban would decimate pubs.

An FRLT spokeswoman told The Publican: "We want to see a ban at the bar and where food is being served, but not an outright ban.

"The debate has been vociferous, but is based on emotions and not fact."

The FRLT has sent out around 50,000 postcards across Northern Ireland appealing for support - and several thousand have already been returned.

But Northern Ireland's Amalgamated Transport & General Workers Union, which represents barstaff, is calling for a total ban.

Maurice Cunning-ham, the union's regional organiser, said: "Passive smoking kills and as one of our members said, bar-staff should not be given a death penalty. One bar worker told me 'I want a trade for life, not to give my life for the trade'."

  • In Scotland, Punch Taverns has joined the fight against the Scottish Executive's proposals for an all-out smoking ban by next March.

The company, which has 450 pubs north of the border, is working with trade bodies and pressure group Against an Out-right Ban (AOB).

More than 2,500 licensees in Scotland have already signed a petition, which calls for a more flexible approach to legislation.

Punch has organised a reception for Scottish MPs, in conjunction with the Scottish Beer & Pub Association and AOB.

Related topics: Legislation

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