July 21, 2020
Twenty-four hours after we brought you the news that the House of Lords had debated a tightening of smoking regulations to include pub gardens, a poll by YouGov shows the measure has popular support.
Asking the question “Do you think smoking should or should not be banned from sitting areas and spaces immediately outside pubs, cafes [sic] and bars?” 63% of Brits said they would be in favour of the measure with just 28% against.
63% of Brits support the call made by various councils to ban smoking from outside pubs, cafes and bars, in order to make them more family friendly and help high streets recover from lockdown https://t.co/VO147G2yMU pic.twitter.com/HcXrGsj8bK
— YouGov (@YouGov) July 20, 2020
If nicotine addicts find they’re unable to light up outside it may provide a window of opportunity for vape to offer a compromise solution.
Last Monday, (13 July), Baroness Northover used a House of Lords debate to bring up the idea. She said: “I remind noble Lords that over 85% of people do not smoke… There is a public health issue here, but there is also the issue of making pubs and restaurants appealing to the vast majority of people.”
Northover’s comments came in the aftermath of a call from the Local Government Association for peers to take action. Cllr Paulette Hamilton, vice chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
“Councils have worked hard to help hospitality businesses reopen, including relaxing requirements and making changes to roads and pavements to enable pubs, cafes and bars to operate outside safely with more outdoor seating.
“Pavement licensing should not be a catalyst to increase smoking in public places, putting people at greater risk of ingesting second-hand smoke when they are enjoying a drink or a meal.”
The idea was immediately squashed both inside and outside the chamber with communities minister Lord Greenhalgh accusing peers of trying to use the legislation as a “backdoor route to try to ban smoking in public places”. Insisting the Government had “no plan” to ban smoking in public places, he said: “Excessive regulation would lead to pub closures and job losses. Smokers should exercise social responsibility and be considerate, and premises are able to set their own rules to reflect customer wishes.”
The hospitality industry itself was not enthusiastic about the suggestion with Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, commenting to the Daily Telegraph: “With the future of so many businesses and jobs still hanging in the balance, additional restrictions are the last thing we need.”
And smokers, too, were unsurprisingly miffed: “This is insane,” said Simon Clark, director of the smoker’s group Forest. “There is absolutely no justification for government to intervene on public health grounds because there is no evidence that smoking outside is a significant risk to non-smokers.”