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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 07:35 GMT
Head to head: pub smoking ban
MPs have voted for a total ban on smoking in public places in England, overturning plans which proposed making pubs not serving food exempt. Before the Commons vote, two bar workers gave the BBC News website their very different opinions.

OPPOSED TO TOTAL BAN

Vincent Healy, who works in and manages Riley's Pub in King's Road, Chelsea, west London

Vincent believes jobs will be lost if a complete ban comes in

I am in favour of having a partial ban with some restrictions.

That would do two things. It would allow smokers and non-smokers to do what they want in a free society.

It would be very difficult for me to start arguing that there are no health risks, but since these have been raised there has been a move from retailers to create non-smoking establishments.

Given time I think the industry, responding to market forces, will give smokers a choice of where to drink and staff a choice about where they want work.

I accept that smoking is harmful but there are many non-smoking pubs right now.

We know from the experience in Ireland, where a smoking ban was brought in, that there has been a dramatic fall-off in trade in the first year.

'Land-locked'

Some of the fall-off has been experienced by the pubs that can't afford to make substantial investment in their gardens.

People who have decided they have a business big enough have invested in improvements to their outside spaces for smokers.

They create an outside environment that encourages smokers to come back by making the garden pleasant and providing heating.

People won't come out for nine months of the year in the inclement weather of the British Isles so you have to make a comfortable environment without contravening the enclosed spaces regulations.

Sometimes publicans have to go much further than just making their gardens nice, they might try to create a sort of outside room for smokers by lifting the roof a few inches off the top line of bricks.

The problem for me is that we are completely land-locked and do not have a garden or patio area.

Our other concern is that if the exemption for clubs remains we would then be competing with 20,000 venues that would be able to say to people who smoke - come in for a drink.

IN FAVOUR OF TOTAL BAN

Elaine Londesborough, who works at the student union bar at the London School of Economics in central London

Elaine Londesborough
Elaine believes there could be legal challenges from a partial ban

I work in the student union bar twice a week and I've worked in lots of bars before this as well as restaurants where people smoke.

I do feel the ill-effects of a smoky atmosphere. I suffer from chronic bronchitis and I think that part of that is due to breathing in smoke a lot of the time.

Chronic bronchitis basically means that I have a cough for quite a lot of the time, about three months of the year.

If I get any sort of cold I am left with a cough which lasts for weeks.

I am not immediately worried about it developing into something more serious but if it's bad enough to cause this condition then I don't want it to get any worse.

Legal challenges?

Also the whole environment I work in is unpleasant - it's horrid to wake up the next morning smelling of smoke.

I can't see any justification for the partial ban.

It's totally ridiculous that the government can protect some workers and not others and from a human rights point of view you cannot justify it.

I think there's a very strong possibility that people will challenge this in court.

New York has already seen better business because of the smoking ban.

And with the level of public support a full ban has here, I can only see business remaining the same or getting even better.

'Level playing field'

What would affect business is if there is are exemptions because there wouldn't be a level playing field.

The bar where I work started serving paninis and some bar snacks a few months ago but there was a huge debate in the student union at the time.

It is likely the that management will stop serving food if it means that customers will not be able to smoke.

The LSE student union confirmed it would have to review food serving policy in all its premises if a partial ban on smoking comes into force.


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