Labour MPs to get free vote on smoking ban proposals

Labour MPs will get a free vote on whether to implement a total ban on smoking in pubs and clubs in England later this month.

The offer by ministers follows a Cabinet split on the smoking policy.

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt is expected to vote for a total ban in licensed premises – against her department’s official policy.

In a recent report, the Commons health select committee said a total ban was the “only effective means” of protecting public health.

But some Conservative and Liberal Democrat MPs oppose a total ban for fear it could undermine civil liberties.

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