MPs campaign to relax smoking ban in pubs

Smoking in a pub The ban was introduced to protect pub staff and non-smokers

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Three MPs are joining forces with campaigners to call for the smoking ban in UK pubs and clubs to be relaxed.

Conservative Greg Knight, Lib Dem John Hemming and Labour's Roger Godsiff argue that the ban has had a devastating impact on the industry.

They want the law to be changed to allow pubs to create a separate room for smokers if they choose.

Thousands of UK pubs have closed in recent years and many have blamed the ban for the loss of business.

The smoking ban was introduced in England in July 2007. Scotland's ban was introduced in March 2006, followed by Wales and Northern Ireland in April 2007.

Ventilation

The Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign says that after three years, Scotland had lost 467 pubs (7.1% of the total estate), Wales 274 (7.3%) and England 4,148 (7.6%).

Campaigners also say working-men's clubs have been hit hard and many have closed or are struggling to survive.

They are arguing that the existing law is excessive and should be reviewed and relaxed to allow proprietors more choice about how they manage smoking at their premises.

Mick McGlasham, general secretary of the Clubs and Institute Union, which represents more than 2,000 working-men's clubs, said: "The ban was passed because politicians wanted to protect staff and non-smokers, but there is no reason why we cannot have a separate smoking room in what are private premises, especially with modern ventilation."

Other supporters of the campaign include the think tanks Progressive Vision and the Adam Smith Institute, and the campaign group Forest, which fights for greater freedom for smokers.

An event promoting the cause will be held at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday with the aim of winning support from more MPs and peers.

Mr Knight, MP for East Yorkshire, said: "This is a unique opportunity for people to show how strongly they feel on this important issue.

"A modest change in the law, not a repeal of the smoking ban, is all we seek."

MPs are banned from smoking anywhere inside the House of Commons apart from on the terrace.

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