There should be no exceptions to the ban on smoking in enclosed public places and workplaces, according to the British Hospitality Association (BHA).
The national trade association of the hotel, catering and leisure industry said the ban should be imposed throughout the UK.
In evidence to the Commons’ Health Committee, Bob Cotton, BHA’s chief executive, said that the association was opposed to the proposed exclusion from the ban of pubs that did not serve food, and private clubs.
He said that publicans would be forced to choose between food and non-food and could well go down the non-food route because of the attraction of higher profits earned on liquor sales.
“Pubs that serve food may well see their trade seep away into the local non-food pub – or to the local working men’s club – thus encouraging exactly what the government is committed to fighting: rising alcohol consumption and binge drinking – not to mention excessive smoking,” he said.
The proposed exemption would mean that some 100,000 staff in the hospitality industry would still be exposed to passive smoke – just under one-third of all workers in the pubs, clubs and bars sector.
“How can separate smoking areas protect staff who are obliged to service them? It seems extraordinary that the government’s own health department is considering allowing such a development given the medical evidence on the dangers of passive smoking.”
Cotton said that it was anomalous that England appeared to be determined to go down a different route than the total ban in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“As it stands at the moment, the proposal is unworkable and will lead to enormous difficulties in interpretation and serious confusion. It is a non-decision.”