The country’s largest licensing authority, Westminster City Council, is pushing to extend next year’s smoking ban in England to cover pavements.
Westminster fears smokers will generate too much noise and disturbance while enjoying a cigarette outside pubs and bars in the capital, creating disturbance and noise for residents.
Newspapers have reported that Westminster has asked the Department for Health (DoH) for additional powers as part of the new laws to make areas with a high-density of bars, such as Soho, completely non-smoking because of this fear.
Offenders would face an on-the-spot fine of £50 and areas such as tourist hot-spot Leicester Square would become smoke-free.
However, officials at the DoH were reported in the Times as saying such a move was not on the agenda.
The British Beer & Pub Association attacked the idea and said it would place intolerable strain on an industry already expecting to take a knock from falling revenues post-ban.
• Smokers’ lobby group Forest has called on the Government to offer tax breaks to businesses, including pubs and restaurants, which erect outdoor smoking shelters to prepare for the ban. Forest director Simon Clark said: “Tax breaks for smoking shelters would not only suggest some level of compassion towards smokers, but it would also be good for pubs and restaurants who might otherwise lose business.”
By Chris Druce
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