Hospitality staff will continue to be put at risk by working in pubs and clubs as ministers today failed to commit to a blanket smoking ban.
Proposals agreed by the Government include:
Restaurants will be smoke-free
Pubs and bars preparing and serving food will be smoke-free
Membership clubs will be exempt
'Non-food' pubs and bars will be free to choose whether to allow smoking, or be smoke-free
Smoking in the bar area will be prohibited everywhere.
The health secretary promised further consultation on smoking, including the idea of sealed smoking rooms. She also said there would be a review after three years.
The news came as a blow to the industry which will now continue to see thousands of employees work in conditions which pose a serious threat to their health.
British Hospitality Association deputy chief executive, Martin Couchman, said the announcement was "very disappointing".
"They've left everyone in the middle," he said. "It's not what we asked for and the irony is that the same Government and the same ministers have voted for a total ban in Northern Ireland."
Anti-smoking lobby ASH also reacted with dismay to the news. Director, Ian Willmore said: "After days of dithering, the Government has now returned to the option on smoking in pubs that absolutely everyone has already told them is the worst of the lot.
"Many pubs will now stop serving food, damaging the Government's alcohol strategy. Non-food pubs will be concentrated in the poorer areas, making health inequalities even worse; and smoking pubs will compete with non-smoking-pubs creating unfair competition.
"The Government got 60,000 responses to it s consultation on these proposals and virtually all of them - from industry, health groups, unions and others, said they were absurd."
By Jessica Gunn
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