Chef-restaurateurs Gordon Ramsay and Paul Heathcote were the latest high-profile industry figures to pledge their support to Caterer's Stub out Smoking campaign this week.
They join Michelin-starred chefs Bruce Poole and Tom Aikens, as well as London's oldest restaurant, Rules, and pub chain JD Wetherspoon, in supporting our call on the Government to ban smoking in restaurants, bars, pubs, hotels and clubs.
Ramsay banned smoking in all his dining rooms at the beginning of September and said he supported the notion of an outright ban. "Once upon a time smoking was allowed on all aeroplanes, now it would be unthinkable on most airlines. I think that one day we will feel the same about smoking in restaurants and indeed all public places. We have had the most amazing support from both employees and customers who are 100% behind our decision."
Heathcote also said he supported the campaign "wholeheartedly". "We've had non-smoking dining rooms in our restaurants for some years and not only do I support a ban but I think it is now inevitable."
Despite overwhelming evidence in support of a ban among hospitality workers (see the results of Caterer's exclusive research at www.caterer-online.com), five major pub companies and the British Beer and Pub Association last week launched a bid to stave off legislation.
Mitchells & Butlers, Spirit, Punch Taverns and Enterprise Inns, who between them control around a third of UK pubs, said they would ban smoking at the bar by the end of next year and expand non-smoking areas to cover 80% of each property within five. They opposed the idea of a total ban and called for continued self-regulation.
But Peter Maguire, deputy chairman of the British Medical Association's board of science, attacked the initiative. "It's a complete waste of time. Ventilation doesn't work as it doesn't remove cancer-causing compounds from the environment. The move has been made because the hospitality industry is increasingly fearful of employees making claims against them on the grounds their health wasn't protected at work."
caterer readers back our campaign - "We haven't had time as a company to canvass the public on a total ban. But if the Government legislated against smoking in the workplace, the management of the company would like to think it would adopt a ban ahead of any official deadline."
Russell Norman, general manager of Zuma, which has a smoking ban in its dining area
- "I support Caterer's campaign. It goes without saying that a ban would help protect the health of workers. There has been very little improvement in air-conditioning systems when there could have been. I would definitely support a ban."
Tim West, chairman of contract caterer Avenance