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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 08:44 GMT 09:44 UK
Church no smoking signs condemned
Lighted cigarette
A ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces begins on 1 July
Rules requiring churches to display no smoking signs when a ban comes into force in England in July have been criticised by a senior London cleric.

The Dean of Southwark the Very Rev Colin Slee said the sign regulations were "daft" and that historic religious buildings should be exempt.

A ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces begins on 1 July.

The Department of Health previously said providing an exemption "would have created a dangerous precedent."

Heritage entrances

Mr Slee claimed one church had been threatened with closure by the council if it failed to comply.

Speaking on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme he said: "All Deans have received a very formal letter and been instructed that it's mandatory to put up these signs, even on wonderful Grade I listed heritage entrances."

The Archdeacon of Down in Ireland, the Ven Phillip Patters, has previously raised similar concerns describing the rules as "overkill" and "unnecessary".

In response to this the Department of Health spokesman said: "I accept, without reservation, that there is a long tradition not to smoke in churches but, as I am sure people will appreciate, to have provided an exemption would have created a dangerous precedent."

Mr Slee also insisted that smoking was not a common problem in church.

Church no smoking signs 'overkill'
16 Apr 07 |  Northern Ireland

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