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No go for watered-down blanket ban on smoking

21 June 2006

A last-ditch attempt at watering down the blanket ban on smoking in bars and restaurants in England has been thrown out of the House of Lords.

Health Minister Lord Warner urged peers not to support Liberal Democrat Lord Russell-Johnston, who proposed that under certain circumstances, smoking should be allowed in restaurants and pubs serving food.

Lord Russell-Johnston said that he believed the smoking issue should be a matter of choice. "I think we should have the right to smoke], it is to do with freedom and the opportunity to choose one's own lifestyle," he said.

However, Lord Warner warned that "[the] amendment would create more problems than it would solve and it has absolutely no support from the Government".

A majority of 151 peers voted against Lord Russell-Johnston's proposal to defeat it at the report stage of the bills passage through the Lords.

Having cleared the Commons already, the Health Bill will now have a third and final reading before receiving Royal Assent and becoming an act.

A complete smoking ban in enclosed public places in England is expected to come into force next summer, although no official date has yet been set by the Government.

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By Jen Crothers

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