Pressure continues to build for a total ban on smoking in the workplace in England, after the Health Bill narrowly scraped through at committee stage yesterday.

The Government defeated an opposition amendment to remove the exemptions from the legislation, which would allow pubs not serving food to keep smoking, by a single vote (8 to 7).

This was despite Labour carefully handpicking its representatives on the 15-strong panel.

It increases pressure on the Government to make further concessions before the Bill goes to report stage, where the amendments made at committee stage are reviewed in the Commons.

Action on Smoking and Health’s Ian Willmore said: “If the Government is having problems getting these absurd exemptions through even this carefully selected group, it is clearly in desperate trouble.”

Willmore said the time had come for ministers to accept the inevitable and ditch the current exemptions in favour of a comprehensive ban on smoking in the workplace in England.

The third reading of the Bill – the final chance for MPs in the Commons to review it – is expected in the New Year.

By Chris Druce



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