The hospitality industry breathed a sigh of relief last week as Parliament finally voted to ban smoking in all public places.
Following months of debate, including Caterer‘s 17-month Stub out Smoking campaign, MPs overwhelming elected to ban smoking in all public places without any major exemptions.
Despite concerns over the detail of the bill, the decision was welcomed almost universally. James Garner, managing editor of Caterer, said: "MPs voting to stub out smoking in all enclosed public places is a victory for common sense and a victory for hospitality employees, thousands of whom backed Caterer‘s campaign for a complete ban on smoking."
Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) said: "We were both pleased and surprised by the sweeping majority in favour of the total ban. Now it's a question of sorting out the detail."
Mark Hastings, director of communications at the British Beer & Pub Association, also welcomed the decision, saying: "We're pleased MPs have voted to ensure a level playing field."
John Grogan, MP for Selby and joint chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Health Committee, added: "The argument for a level playing field for all businesses won the day, convincing wavering MPs that it would be unfair to exempt private members' clubs."
Paul Heathcote, founder of the Simply Heathcotes chain, and one of the first celebrity chefs to publicly support a total ban, said: "I'm delighted. This will make life for restaurateurs and hoteliers much simpler, and there will be so many benefits for both customers and staff."
As well as delight at the landslide victory, concerns are now arising over the detail and timetable of the bill.
"With separate legislation on smoking in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, it's important that the regulations are harmonised," said Bob Cotton, chief executive of the BHA.
"Smoking in bedrooms is an example of potential disparity, where one country might not wish to take the same view as Scotland."
Concerns have also been raised over the size of fines under the new legislation and the timetable for its implementation. "A maximum £2,500 fine on a business where smoking takes place on its premises hardly compares with a maximum £50 fine on a guilty smoker," said Cotton.
By Jessica Gunn
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