MP's bid to relax smoking ban fails

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Passive smoking, Smoking ban, Smoking, Mp

Nuttall with David Cameron: wants freedom of choice on smoking ban
Nuttall with David Cameron: wants freedom of choice on smoking ban
An MP's bid to change the law to let pubs offer separate smoking areas has failed at the first stage. MPs today voted against the Ten Minute Rule...

An MP's bid to change the law to let pubs offer separate smoking areas has failed at the first stage.

MPs today voted against the Ten Minute Rule Bill from David Nuttall by 141 votes to 86, meaning it will not get a second reading.

Nuttall's Bill wanted pubs to be allowed to have separate smoking areas if they wished, as long as they were well ventilated.

Nuttall, Conservative MP for Bury North, told Parliament that "thousands" of pubs had closed since the ban was introduced in 2007.

Although other factors such as cheap supermarket alcohol and the cost of screening sport had played a part, "for many the smoking ban was the final straw".

Nuttall argued that licensees are the best people to decide whether to allow smoking in their pubs.

Localism agenda

He said relaxing the ban was consistent with the Government's localism agenda, because it "transfers powers from the state to the customer, from politics to people".

"I believe in trusting the people," the MP said.

"This does mean giving individuals the power and responsibility to take decisions for themselves.

"Pub landlords are the right people to decide whether allowing a smoking room is the best thing to do for their establishment."

Nuttall also argued that his plan would reduce the number of people congregating outside pubs.

Irresponsible

But opposing the Bill, Kevin Barron MP labeled such a plan "irresponsible" because it would reverse the positive health benefits of a total ban.

The Labour MP for Rother Valley, who chaired the Commons Health Committee that studied the issue in 2005, cited examples from abroad that he said shows the folly of allowing separate smoking rooms.

In Australia, a study from 2004 showed there were as many dangerous toxins in the air in non-smoking sections at pubs as in smoking areas because of smoke drift, Barron said.

He added: "People who work in the leisure sector are exposed to people's life-threatening habits. It was the issue in 2006 [when the vote was taken to ban smoking], it's the issue now."

Barron also suggested that Nuttall's plan would disadvantage pubs that can't afford proper ventilation.

"Trying to introduce smoke-free rooms, ventilation to the level they would need...this would have a negative effect on pubs. There's no way it would be beneficial to them."

Related topics: Legislation

Property of the week

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more