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Last Updated: Monday, 17 July 2006, 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK
Smoke ban rule plans are unveiled
Smoking in pub
The smoking ban is due to start next summer
Details of how England's ban on smoking in enclosed places will work have been published and put out to consultation.

Health Minister Caroline Flint said the government would listen to people's views ahead of the ban, which is due to start next summer.

Anti-smoking groups welcomed the draft rules but said they would like ministers to also ban smoking in bus shelters and sports stadia.

However, the Tories say the plans are too complicated and could be expensive.

The government originally planned to let private members' clubs and pubs, which do not serve food, to be exempt from the smoking ban. But MPs instead opted for a complete ban.

Minimum enforcement?

The consultation paper analyses the relative costs and benefits of the ban.

It suggests the full ban will cost between 1.66bn and 1.67bn a year, but the total benefits are worth between 3.374bn and 3.78bn.

The government has put the draft regulations for the ban out to consultation until 9 October.

Ian Willmore, from anti-smoking group Ash, said: "The government has rightly opted for regulations that will be easy for employers, workers and members of the public to understand, should command wide public support, and should therefore be generally observed with the minimum need for enforcement.

"This has already been the experience in the Irish Republic and in Scotland."

He said he also wanted to see ministers use their powers to ensure that sports stadia, bus and railway stations were smoke-free.

And he said smoking should also be outlawed in all mental health units and prisons. NHS executives say it is difficult to enforce the ban where people have been compulsorily detained.

'Big Brother'

Nick Bish, of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said the rules would help pubs, bars and restaurants start planning for the ban.

He called for "light touch" enforcement of the rules.

"It would be crazy, for example, if a parasol in a courtyard was to be defined as a roof, but that's how it looks at the moment," he said.

For the Conservatives, shadow health minister Andrew Murrison said the consultation was "riddled with complications".

"It will leave local councils, employers and managers none the wiser about the cost and enforcement of the proposed legislation," he said.

"Typically the government has tipped the balance in favour of 'Big Brother' style enforcement."

He pointed to recent suggestions that there will be a "hotline" for people to report cases where the ban is broken.

"Unless more clarity is provided, organisations will face huge bills from lawyers employed to ensure compliance," added Dr Murrison.




SEE ALSO
Smoking ban in all pubs and clubs
14 Feb 06 |  UK Politics
Q&A: Ban on smoking in public
14 Feb 06 |  UK Politics

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