On Wednesday I will be seeking the leave of the House of Commons to introduce a Bill which would exempt pubs and clubs from the blanket ban on smoking in public buildings. The Bill would give individual pub landlords the right to choose for themselves whether or not to allow smoking to take place in a separate room fitted with air extraction equipment. Areas in which food is being served would continue to be entirely smoke free.
Although many pubs have been able to create outside smoking areas on their own premises this is not always possible. In many pubs those customers wishing to smoke have to stand outside on the pavement and even though there is usually nothing to give cause for worry a large group can sometimes be intimidating for other pedestrians. If some pubs allowed smoking this feature of 21st century life would be reduced.
Much is said about the sense in passing more power down from the centre to local communities and this Bill would do just that it would give the power to decide back to local pub landlords. The Bill would also apply to Private Members Clubs where the Members could decide whether they wanted to have a smoking room.
In Bury we have seen a number of public houses close since the introduction of the smoking ban and many more have ‘For Sale’ or ‘To Let’ signs outside. Many of the pubs which remain open are struggling to survive. When a pub closes down everyone loses out not just smokers.
I am a devout non-smoker and personally I prefer a smoke free environment. However whilst smoking remains legal it seems to me to be a sensible compromise to allow smoking to take place in public houses and private members clubs in a separate room with appropriate extraction equipment.