New rumours on smoking spark fresh hope

Related tags Patricia hewitt Bbpa

Trade leaders have been encouraged by fresh speculation that pubs will be allowed separate smoking rooms when a ban is eventually introduced.Despite...

Trade leaders have been encouraged by fresh speculation that pubs will be allowed separate smoking rooms when a ban is eventually introduced.

Despite reports that Tony Blair and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt have thrown out proposals to exempt wet-led pubs in favour of an all-out ban, many in the industry are still hopeful for a concession.

The most likely is separate smoking rooms - which would involve sealed-off rooms or "carriages" where food and drink would not be served and staff would not go during business hours.

"Smoking rooms are an intelligent solution to this problem," said Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR). "With time and "smoking carriages" we can become smoke-free without the destruction of some of the most historic and community-focused parts of our industry."

It is currently understood that smoking carriages will only be considered as a compromise solution if the Labour cabinet cannot agree on an outright ban. But John McNamara, chief executive of the BII, is also confident pubs will be offered some concessions. "I'm hopeful some exemptions will be given," he said. "Where possible there should be the opportunity within the legislation to provide a separate room with good ventilation for smokers." But he pointed out that this would still hit one-room bars that did not have outside smoking facilities.

The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) also believes smoking rooms are an option the government is still considering. "What we are hearing in relation to smoking rooms is encouraging," commented Mark Hastings, the BBPA's communications director. "I think the government is trying to look at smoking restrictions and not a total ban."

Asked to comment on the speculation of a total ban, a Department of Health spokeswoman said: "This is a leak and we do not comment on leaks. There is nothing more to say at this stage."

Related topics Legislation

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