Smoking room is likely saviour amid total ban

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Total smoking ban, Tessa jowell

by Ewan Turney The Government is set to introduce a total smoking ban but may allow separate smoking rooms with no staff and no food and drink being...

by Ewan Turney

The Government is set to introduce a total smoking ban but may allow separate smoking rooms with no staff and no food and drink being served, according to media reports.

Last week, the Morning Advertiser exclusively revealed that an outright ban was more likely than ever after culture secretary Tessa Jowell came out in favour of a total ban. The cabinet could make the final decision on smoke-free legislation at its meeting today.

Trade leaders said if there was to be a total ban, the concession of a smoking room would help many pubs without outside areas stay in business.

'Smoking rooms discourage smoking but would help many vulnerable community pubs continue to trade,' said Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers chief executive Nick Bish.

'There are very well-established and affordable techniques to prevent smoke drift from these rooms - using just the same air movement principles that prevent germs drifting into operating theatres. The atmosphere outside smoking rooms would be smoke-free.'

He added: '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.'

Federation of Licensed Victuallers Associations chief executive Tony Payne said that research had proved ventilation systems in smoking rooms could work effectively.

'If there is to be a total ban, we must have the right amount of time to invest in our premises and convert rooms into smoking rooms and install proper ventilation systems,' he said.

BII chief executive John McNamara added: 'We would support the idea of a smoking room. The key issue is time and if there is to be a total ban we need until 2010 at least.

'It is a fact that in Ireland turnover and employment levels were well down after the ban. The more time we have, the less painful it will be.'

A Department of Health spokeswoman denied there had been a policy shift and refused to comment on when an announcement was due.

Related topics: Legislation

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