Over the Easter weekend, The Telegraph newspaper reported that a call to extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas has been included in a “list of demands” from councils and health authorities in London.
The newspaper claimed that Sadiq Khan, the Labour Mayor of London, had supported the proposals, which it suggested had originally been made by Haringey Council.
However, a spokesman for Haringey Council has since told The Morning Advertiser that it has “no plans” to ban smoking in public places, but is looking into how it can “increase the number of smoke-free environments”.
An ‘outrageous attack’ on people’s rights
Pub campaigners responded angrily to the suggested ban, and said that it would be a “spiteful and mean-spirited act”, if the claims were true.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers' rights group Forest, said: "Extending the smoking ban to beer gardens would be an outrageous attack on people's right to smoke in places where they are not harming anyone else.
"It would be a spiteful and mean-spirited act that would also deny proprietors the ability to choose a policy on smoking that best suits their business."
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the smoking ban in UK pubs, which came into force on 1 July 2007.
Speaking to The Telegraph on Thursday (13 April), Marcus Jones, Minister for Local Government, said: “We already knew that Labour councils charge higher council taxes and levy more red tape.
"Now Labour’s municipal killjoys have been caught with a smoking gun, trying to ban adults enjoying their local pub garden. If implemented, these ill-founded proposals would lead to massive pub closures.
"Conservatives in Government will be vetoing these Labour party plans. Ahead of May’s local elections, local voters have a right to know the bad and mad ideas that are being peddled by Labour councillors."
In response, a Haringey Council spokesman said: “We have no plans to ban smoking in public places in Haringey.
“It is clear that smoking and inhaling second-hand smoke is one of the biggest contributors to premature deaths in the country, and what we are committed to is looking at all the options for reducing the impact on our residents.
“Through our health devolution bid, we hope to carry out detailed research into how increasing the number of smoke-free environments in Haringey and across London could improve the health and life chances of all our residents.”
Haringey is part of a health devolution bid with two key strands of research – one looking at how to improve mental health in the borough and the other researching whether stronger licensing powers for local authorities could improve health, especially around alcohol and tobacco.