Health committee chairman slams smoking ban plan

09 March 2005 by
Health committee chairman slams smoking ban plan

A leading politician has criticised the Government's smoking ban proposal as "totally impractical".

Labour MP David Hinchliffe, chairman of the influential Select Committee on Health, called on Health Secretary John Reid to be "more ambitious" and go for a total ban in public places.

Health Secretary Reid should be "more ambitious", said Hinchliffe
He also branded Reid's fudged proposals to ban smoking in all public places except pubs and bars that don't serve food as "na‹ve" and "unworkable". "How can you make provision for a smoke-free area of a room when smoke will be moving around the room? It just doesn't seem a logical way forward. I'd like to see a complete ban," he said. Giving evidence to a recent select committee meeting, Reid said that a total ban would increase passive smoking at home by forcing smokers to drink and smoke there instead of in the pub. But this was rubbished by Hinchliffe, who said that Reid's assumption was based purely on anecdotal evidence. "Reid is wrong," Hinchliffe said. "The moves to reduce smoking in pubs are very helpful to people attempting to give up." Deborah Arnott, director of Action on Smoking and Health, agreed: "It's utter nonsense. Evidence from other countries' experiences show that smoking decreases, not increases, under a total ban." She called for comprehensive national legislation, arguing that the bar, restaurant and pub trade also wanted this. "They all know it is coming and would rather have simple legislation so it can be properly run. The ban works in Ireland because it's simple and provides a level playing field. "It'll be much more confusing here and much more difficult to enforce, if not impossible." In a separate move, another eight councils are considering following the steps taken by Liverpool and the Association of London Government in attempting to introduce their own ban on smoking in enclosed public places. Councils in Canterbury, Milton Keynes, Poole, Brighton, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens and Sheffield are looking at measures to outlaw smoking, including by-laws, licensing laws or health and safety legislation. Andrea Crossfield, SmokeFree Liverpool co-ordinator, said that if Liverpool's private bill to ban smoking was successful, it planned to fine individuals who flouted the law and, as a last resort, would refuse to issue licences. But a spokeswoman for the Department of Health said it would not support separate moves to ban smoking. "If the Government wanted a total ban, it would have done it in the White Paper." *Source: Caterer & Hotelkeeper magazine, 10 March 2005*
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