No escape route for smokers

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Related tags: Public house, Public places, Public library

I have been taken to task by one reader for suggesting in a recent answer to a question that a public house is not a public place. She claims her...

I have been taken to task by one reader for suggesting in a recent answer to a question that a public house is not a public place. She claims her regulars have seized upon this to mean that the smoking ban does not apply to pubs, because it only covers public places, and I have put her in a bad position.

Apologies for that, but it is really not a crime that I admit to. Regrettably for her smoking patrons, one assumption does not lead to another.

Section 2 of the Health Act refers actually to "premises which are open to the public", not public places. There are thousands of such premises, including shops, stores, offices and other service industries which may be open to the public, but which are not public places.

There is a popular myth that because a public house is so named, there is a complete right of entry to any member of the public. This was the point I was making: that is simply not true. It is the landlord who determines whom he or she wishes to serve, and that right has not been eroded by any legislation, even allowing for the discrimination laws. It simply means that if a potential customer makes an offer to buy, it is entirely up to the landlord to take the decision whether or not to sell.

As far as the smoking ban is concerned, it affects not only places to which the public has access, but also places where people work. In that respect, pubs have to be smoke-free all the time, whether a member of the public is there or not.

As it is, pubs are specifically mentioned in the Act as not being able to be excluded or exempted from the smoke-free legislation under any circumstances, although other types of premises may be. There is a similar reference to clubs operating under a club premises certificate.

I know that there are those who will clutch at any straw to retain the right to smoke in certain premises, and they are extremely inventive some of the time. But alas, this is not an escape route.

Related topics: Legislation

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