Hewitt defends smoking ban exemption of private clubs

Related tags Secretary patricia hewitt Smoking Patricia hewitt Passive smoking

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has defended the government's plans to exempt private members' clubs from the proposed smoking ban.During a debate...

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has defended the government's plans to exempt private members' clubs from the proposed smoking ban.

During a debate on the Health Bill in Parliament, she said private clubs should be able to decide for themselves whether to allow smoking. "Those clubs are non-profit-making organisations in which the members make the decisions, just as people make their own decisions in their own homes," she said.

"It is therefore right to exempt membership clubs."

Many licensees have voiced objections over the exemption of clubs, arguing they will lose trade to outlets where smoking is allowed.

Former health secretary Frank Dobson attacked the current plans over their failure to add-ress health inequalites.

"Pubs, clubs and bars serving booze but not food are mainly located in poor neighbourhoods, and serve working-class people, so the partial ban will be good for the health of middle-class people but bad for working-class people," he said.

The government was also accused of ignoring its own research on passive smoking.

Paul Burstow, the Lib Dem MP for Sutton and Cheam, Surrey, said its own report "shows that over 20 more people a year will die from second-hand smoke as a result of the partial ban".

Five days previously, Liam Donaldson, Labour's medical chief, told a health select committee meeting he had considered resigning over the government's failure to heed his advice on a total ban.

However, health minister Car-oline Flint defended the government's position, saying: "We are trying to have a light-touch of enforcement."

Related topics Legislation

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