The risk of widespread job losses if there is a ban on smoking in public places is justified by the health benefits, according to an MP pushing for a ban in Wales.
Julie Morgan, MP for Cardiff North, has introduced a Private Members’ Bill that would give the Welsh National Assembly the power to end smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public places in Wales.
The move follows a similar ban in Ireland, where businesses have expressed concerns that it was damaging businesses – a claim strongly denied by trade unions.
“We don’t know what the true picture is,” Morgan told Personnel Today. “To be quite honest, the public health argument is so great that it outweighs those arguments.”
The British Beer and Pub Association said trade in Ireland has dropped 16 per cent since the ban was introduced in March 2004. It warned that 75,000 jobs could be lost if there was a UK-wide ban.
But the British Medical Association is fully supportive of a ban, estimating that bar staff breathe six times the amount of smoke of other workers.
Morgan hopes a new law in Wales will force the Government to extend it across the UK sooner than 2008 – the date suggested in last year’s Health White Paper.