Stub Out Smoking campaign success

15 February 2006
Stub Out Smoking campaign success

MPs last night overwhelmingly backed a full ban on smoking in England, bringing Caterer's Stub Out Smoking campaign to a successful end.

Despite months of debate and cabinet-infighting, last night's vote ended in a landslide victory for pro-ban supporters with 385 MPs voting for a complete ban in all enclosed public places. Only 184 MPs voted against.

The move brings England into line With Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who have already committed to a complete ban on smoking.

The English ban is expected to come into effect by the middle of 2007.

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 and Hotelkeeper's campaign for a complete ban on smoking.

The new legislation means that the health of Britain's 1.6 million hospitality workers will no longer be at the mercy of second-hand smoke.

Caterer's 18-month campaign.

Such was the momentum behind the move towards a complete ban, that even Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt changed her stance and voted for a total ban.

Interviewed on Channel 4 News after the result, she said she had been swayed by the strong economical argument from hospitality representatives against an exemption for clubs.

Hewitt denied the Government had been dragged kicking and screaming to a full ban by public opinion.

"We said in our manifesto that we would ban smoking in most public places, which we have done. This bill will save thousands of lives and is on a par with seatbelts in cars. It is a very important public health measure," she said.

Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research, said: "We're delighted that the smoke free law will give all workers, including those in pubs and private members' clubs, equal protection from the life-threatening effects of second hand smoke."

Brian Revell, T&G national organiser for food and agriculture, said: "The MPs have taken the right decision tonight to safeguard the health of thousands of bar staff.

A spokesman for the British Beer & Pub Association said: "We are pleased that MPs have ensured a level playing field for all, with no exemption for private members' clubs. Such clubs are in direct competition with pubs, and they are not private places. They sell 1.2 billion pints of beer a year, and their thousands of employees are subject to the same health and safety at work regulations as pub industry staff."

Pro smoking group Forest attacked the decision and said a total ban was disproportionate to the problem of second-hand smoke.

"Unfortunately MPs have been seduced by an unprecedented campaign of propaganda about the effects of passive smoking, for which evidence is inconclusive."

By Chris Druce

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