Tobacco firms seek choice in smoking ban

The tobacco industry has called for an element of choice to be retained after the Government announced plans for a ban on smoking in public places in the Queen’s Speech this week.

However, anti-smoking campaigners are unhappy that the proposed legislation does not apply to all pubs and clubs. The Government has reintroduced the idea of a ban as part of its Health Improvement Bill, set before the House of Commons yesterday (Tuesday).

Under the planned legislation, smoking would be banned in all workplaces and enclosed public spaces, except pubs that do not serve food and private members’ clubs.

Tim Lord, chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association (TMA), says that public opinion is against an outright ban and that self-regulation is the best way to govern the industry.

“People are in favour of segregated areas,” he says. “Choice is the key word and, unlike in Scotland and Ireland, we expect that some element of choice will be retained.”

He says that tobacco manufacturers will co-operate with the Government in implementing any new laws, although he reiterates that self-regulation is more appropriate.

Anti-smoking group ASH welcomes the planned laws, but director Deborah Arnott says: “Now we have to persuade the Government that the absurd exemptions for some pubs and clubs must be dropped from the final bill.”

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