The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) has called for stronger leadership from central Government over the implementation of the smoking ban in England and Wales.
In its submission to the Department of Health as part of the consultation on smoking regulations, which ends today, the BBPA urges the Government to take a firm line on the introduction of the new laws to ensure councils apply the rules fairly and consistently.
It has particularly singled out the issue of planning, saying councils should not be allowed to adopt a subjective view on planning requests for smoking shelters, which could lead to costly and drawn-out legal battles.
One of the biggest criticisms of last year's new licensing laws for England and Wales was that the Government's legislation was ambiguously worded and left councils to interpret the meaning, leading to widely differing approaches throughout the country.
BBPA said the Government also needed to run an immediate and comprehensive information campaign to prepare the public for the new laws.
The trade association also questioned the level of fines under the ban, which could see licensees hit with up to £2,500 penalty if customers flaunt the new rules once in force, describing them as disproportionate and suggesting something around the £200 mark instead.
It also wants the Government to set a definitive date for the start of the ban in England.
At present officials have said only that it will be enforced sometime next summer.
Mark Hastings, director of communications at BBPA, said: "As pubs are spending considerable time and money preparing for the ban, they really need to know the start date they are working towards."
Last month the Welsh Assembly announced its aim to introduce a smoking ban in all public places in the country from 2 April 2007.
By Chris Druce