The health of hospitality workers and customers will not be protected by a complete ban on smoking in public places, the Department of Health revealed today.
Media speculation had tipped the Government to toughen its line on smoking and announce a full ban today, following Scotland's lead.
But at the launch of a three-month consultation on the Health Improvement and Protection Bill public health minister Caroline Flint ruled out any changes to last November's proposals.
Instead the Government remains on course to allow smoking only in pubs not serving food - apart from snacks such as crisps or nuts that do not need refrigeration.
Flint argued that by 2009 this would mean 99% of workplaces would be smoke-free, with most pubs stubbing out smoking in favour of offering customers meals.
But recent research by the British Medical Association (BMA) found Government estimates that only 10% to 30% of pubs in England did not currently serve food were a gross underestimation.
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