The government’s plans to implement a partial smoking ban were condemned by MPs yesterday as “unfair, unjust, inefficient and unworkable”.
Ministers were accused of putting their egos before the health of the nation by permitting smoking in pubs that do not serve food and private clubs. The committee argued that current proposals could lead to potential lawsuits from bar staff forced to continue working in a smoke-filled atmosphere.
The House of Commons Health Select Committee directed the main thrust of its anger towards former health secretary John Reid who rallied against a complete smoking ban.
Kevin Barron, the Labour committee chairman, said: “The current proposals fly in the face of medical opinion and will do nothing to protect those most at risk. As they stand, they will simply exacerbate existing health inequalities, and will confuse the public as to where they can or cannot smoke. The government needs to be strong enough to take the tough decision to introduce a comprehensive ban which includes all pubs and clubs.”
Peter Hollins, director-general of the British Heart Foundation, agreed: “They are right that only a comprehensive smoking ban, protecting all workers from harmful tobacco smoke, can work.”
The committee said the success of a complete smoking ban in Ireland should provide further evidence for a total ban in the UK.