News & Comment

Review the smoking ban and allow separate smoking rooms, says Forest

Fri 29th June, 2012

Forest is marking the fifth anniversary of the smoking ban in England by renewing its call for an amendment to the ban that would allow separate smoking rooms in pubs and private members’ clubs.

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "The smoking ban has been a disaster for many pubs and clubs. Over 5000 pubs have closed since the ban was introduced, many as a direct result of the legislation.

"We know this because figures from a respected hospitality industry database show a significant increase in pub closures in the immediate aftermath of smoking bans in Ireland (2004), Scotland (2006) and England (2007).

"Urban pubs, in particular, have been hit badly, and working men's clubs have also suffered.

"The impact on many people's social lives has been enormous. Thanks to the ban many smokers are smoking and drinking at home. Who can blame them when the alternative is standing outside in the wind and rain?

"In contrast, the effect of the ban on public health has been negligible. There is no good evidence to suggest that Britain is a healthier place as a result of outlawing smoking in every pub and bar. 

"The ban has encouraged greater intolerance on both sides, with many smokers reaching for their fags in defiance and fanatical anti-smoking campaigners more determined than ever to bully smokers into quitting."

Calling for a comprehensive review of the impact of the smoking ban, Clark said:

"In the words of [artist] David Hockney, 'Pubs aren't health clubs'. There has to be a sensible compromise that gives publicans, customers and staff an element of choice.

"We want the government to amend the legislation to allow separate, well-ventilated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs. Few people would object to that because no-one would be exposed to other people's smoke against their wishes."

On Tuesday [June 26th] Forest marked the fifth anniversary of the smoking ban in England by hosting a ‘Freedom Dinner’ in London. Guest speakers at the £80 per head event were writer and broadcaster James Delingpole, Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, and General Sir Mike Jackson, former head of the British Army (2003-2006).

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