On 29th June a cross-party group of MPs is hosting an event at the House of Commons in support of the Save Our Pubs & Clubs Campaign. They want publicans, club representatives and constituents to lobby their MPs to amend the smoking ban. Greg Knight (Conservative), Roger Godsiff (Labour) and John Hemming (Liberal Democrat) are leading the call to change the law on smoking which they blame for the closure of hundreds of pubs and clubs.
Greg Knight, Conservative MP for East Yorkshire, says This is a unique opportunity for pubs and clubs 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.
The Europe-wide ban has been more relaxed in several countries. The Netherlands government has met its promise to amend the smoking ban and will allow smoking in small, owner-operated bars with an area less than 70 sq. metres which are run by a single member of staff. There had been a number of protests and civil disobedience defying the ban, a situation not seen in the UK.
In Germany the legislation was describe as a patchwork where some individual states allowed limited smoking in small bars or where a segregated smoking area could be provided. A loophole in the law also allowed smoking in private clubs. Although the federal government is commited to a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places there appears to be a lack of enforcement with many bars and cafes defying the authorities.
Spain introduced a strict new anti-smoking law in January 2011 following a relaxed attitude to its initial introduction in 2006 when bars, cafes and restaurants could chose to become non-smoking or not; unsurprisingly most chose not. Larger establishments had to provide a non-smoking area. The new restrictions ban smoking in all restaurants, bars and in the proximity of hospitals and schools. Smoking on television broadcasts is also outlawed.
The broad acceptance of the smoking ban in the UK will be hard to reverse. Pubs have undoubltedly closed because of the ban, but pub companies point the finger of blame at cheap booze in supermarkets, rising costs and hyper-inflated alcohol taxes as more threatening. Perhaps some small concessions for smokers is the most the Save Our Pubs & Clubs Campaign could hope for.
Save Our Pubs and Clubs