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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 February 2006, 10:55 GMT
Campaigners welcome smoking ban
A female smoker
The Cabinet had proposed a ban only in pubs serving food
Health campaigners have welcomed a vote paving the way for a ban on smoking in all pubs, clubs and restaurants in England from the summer of 2007.

Deborah Arnott, of anti-smoking group Ash, said she was "amazed" and "very delighted" by the Commons decision.

MPs voted on Tuesday by a margin of 200 votes to impose a ban on smoking in all enclosed public spaces, despite months of wrangling over the issue.

Opponents say the ban is an infringement of civil liberties.

Hotel rooms exempt

Labour MPs were given a free vote amid fears they could rebel against plans to exempt private clubs and non-food pubs.

The total ban will extend to all enclosed areas except private homes, residential care homes, hospitals, prisons and hotel bedrooms.

We have this huge opportunity and we have got to make it work - to encourage more people to give up smoking, but also to create a different culture
Caroline Flint

Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the change, which also brings in fines of 2,500 for not stopping people smoking in restricted areas, would "save thousands of people's lives".

Cancer Research UK said it was the biggest step forward in public health for half a century while the British Heart Foundation described the decision as "the best possible Valentine's gift from MPs to bar workers".

Public health minister Caroline Flint told BBC News: "We have this huge opportunity and we have got to make it work - to encourage more people to give up smoking, but also to create a different culture."

'Street smoking'

Simon Clark, director of smoking support group Forest, conceded that the pro-smoking lobby had "lost the battle but not necessarily the war".

"People will continue to smoke and the idea that people are all going to give up smoking simply because they can't smoke in a pub is nonsense," he told BBC News.

About one third of people who smoke more than 20 cigarettes a day will have their first within five minutes of waking

"One of the problems with the ban when it comes in, will be that people will move into the street, they'll smoke more at home, and it could end up being counter-productive."

Chris Ogden, director of trade and industry affairs at the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, expressed his "disappointment" at a decision which went against the government's own manifesto commitment.

"The fact is that many thousands, millions of adults will choose to smoke on an informed basis and we will continue to serve that market both domestically and globally," he said.

'Undemocratic'

Alan Bowes, executive chairman of London and Edinburgh Swallow Group - one of the UK's biggest hotel and pub groups - vowed to challenge the ban in the courts.

He is already set to launch a legal challenge in the Scottish Parliament to the smoking ban in Scotland which is due to come into force on 26 March.

Mr Bowes, whose group operates 150 hotels and 700 pubs, said: "We will fight this all the way to Europe as it will affect children because smokers will simply stay at home and light up in front of their kids."

A total smoking ban is due to come into force in Northern Ireland in April, next year. The Health Bill gives the Welsh Assembly the right to decide for itself whether to implement a ban it has already twice approved in principle.

Three choices

The Cabinet originally proposed exempting all pubs and clubs which did not serve food, but decided to offer MPs a free vote on a full ban after it became clear that many Labour MPs opposed the official proposal.

MPs overwhelmingly voted for a complete ban with Prime Minister Tony Blair and Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt effectively voting against their own policy.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley said ministers had "put forward proposals which their own backbenchers thought were completely unworkable" but he hailed the result as "a very important step".

And Liberal Democrat health spokesman Steve Webb hailed the result as "good news for the health and safety of people who work in public places".


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Smokers and non-smokers react to the ban



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