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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 July, 2005, 12:57 GMT 13:57 UK
Pubs' halfway call on smoking ban
A puff and a pint could soon be a thing of the past in Welsh pubs
Publicans and some of their customers are stepping up their campaign against plans to ban smoking in Welsh pubs.

They argue that an outright ban would be counter to personal freedom and could mean job losses or pubs closing.

After they launched 1,200 balloons outside the Welsh assembly to represent the number of pubs they claim are at risk they urged a compromise solution.

The Licensed Victuallers Association would back a ban at the bar and in at least one room of multi-room pubs.

It's about freedom of will and banning smoking in public places is going too far
Pub regular Charlie Georgiou
Up to a hundred protesters took to the streets of Cardiff, carrying banners and posters which called for the assembly government to "butt out" of their business.

John Palmer, who has run the Farmers Arms in Penygroes for two years, said: "In my pub, most of the regulars smoke.

"We're only a little village, and where am I if they banned smoking? I could end up with me being closed down."

Ballons released by protesters
Protestors released balloons to represent pubs they claim are at risk

The UK government is consulting on plans to ban smoking in most public places by the end of 2008, but pubs not preparing and serving food would be exempt.

In Wales, Health Minister Brian Gibbons said a blanket ban on smoking in public places would be brought in within three years.

Dr Gibbons has said he fully accepted a smoking ban in workplaces and enclosed public places was needed, and AMs have recommended a ban in enclosed public places.

Some pubgoers also joined the protest. Charlie Georgiou, 18, and her boyfriend have been going to the Pandy Inn since she moved to a village on the outskirts of Abergavenny 12 months ago.

Most smokers want to give up now anyway, and most of them are happy to go outside
Jolyon Joseph, of non-smoking bar and hotel Cwtch and Jolyon Hotel
"The landlord is a good friend of ours and we'd hate to see him go out of business," she said.

"The Pandy Inn has got a good atmosphere, it's full of local people and there's always someone you can talk to."

"It's about freedom of will and banning smoking in public places is going too far."

John Price
Publican John Price is unconvinced by the health arguments

But not all members of the licensed trade are against a smoking ban.

Jolyon Joseph, who has opened a non-smoking bar and hotel, the Cwtch and Jolyon Hotel in Cardiff Bay, said: "Most smokers want to give up now anyway, and most of them are happy to go outside.

"But there is always someone who complains and they want a place to smoke. Well, tough on them!"

But John Price, secretary of the Licensed Victuallers Association of Wales, said: "Anyone critically ill in hospital is allowed to smoke, with no regard to the nurses.

Mr Price, 67, who runs the Bush Inn in Clydach Vale, said: "Prisoners are allowed to smoke - so never mind the wardens."

"Where's the freedom of choice? I used to be a smoker. And I enjoy seeing people having a fag and pint.

"I don't know of anyone who's life has been cut short in our area through smoking," he said.

"I just wish they (the assembly government) would 'butt out' and leave us alone."

The association claimed its compromise was backed by 80% of its members, and would mean 80% of pubs had at least one room that was totally smoke-free for customers and that staff exposure to smoke was limited.

Pub chain plans bar smoking ban
06 Jul 05 |  England
Smoking study claims home success
12 Jul 05 |  Scotland


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