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EHOs and local government call for total smoking ban

24 November 2005

Environmental health officers (EHOs) and local government representatives have branded the Government's plans to partially ban smoking as contradictory, complex and unenforceable.

Both organisations will tell an influential parliamentary hearing on smoking today (24 November) that a partial smoking ban is a fudge that will be too expensive and complicated to police.

Ian Gray, from the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, will call on the Government to introduce a total workplace ban on smoking in England and Wales at the third hearing session of the Health Select Committee.

A spokesman for the institute said: "Linking smoking to food consumption is itself illogical in public health terms and in many pubs and clubs the law will not protect staff. This unethically requires our members to protect some workers while not others."

The Local Government Association (LGA) will also tell today's hearing that a partial ban linked to food will be too complex and expensive.

A spokesman for the LGA said: "Under the current proposals EHOs would issue penalty notices to customers or owners that broke the ban, but this is not part of their regular job so they would need extra training and funding.

"There remains a lack of clarity over enforcement, but regardless we want to see a comprehensive ban," the spokesman said.

EHOs are in short supply and many councils have cut food inspection programmes as a result (see Caterer, 16 November, page 10).

Senior figures in the profession fear that EHOs, which also have additional responsibilities under the new licensing act, are being asked to do too much with too little.

The British Hospitality Association (BHA) is holding talks with EHOs and other industry representatives to push for a complete ban on Monday next week (28 November).

BHA chief executive Bob Cotton told Caterer that the Government was starting to understand that the majority of the leisure and hospitality industries wanted a total ban.

"It's only the pub trade that is opposed, but this is about people at work and should not be derailed by them as it is a bigger issue than that," Cotton said.

The talks tie in with the expected second reading of the Health Bill on 29 November.

By Chris Druce

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