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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 June 2007, 23:07 GMT 00:07 UK
Smokers in last-gasp stand on ban
Antony Worrall-Thompson
Chef Antony Worrall-Thompson is hosting the London dinner
Smokers' rights campaigners are to make a last stand against the 1 July ban in England by urging the government to make some exceptions.

Lobby group Forest will call for legal amendments so some pubs and private clubs can provide smoking areas.

Forest director Simon Clark will tell 400 guests at the Revolt in Style dinner in London: "We have lost the battle, but we haven't lost the war."

Smoking will be banned in virtually all enclosed public places from Sunday.

Chef Antony Worrall Thompson will host the dinner at the Savoy Hotel in London, which will be attended by celebrities and politicians.

Mr Clark will tell guests that Britain is "developing into a nanny state".

"When you leave school you are considered to be an adult.

"You should be mature enough to make informed choices about eating, drinking, smoking and other activities that give you pleasure but involve a degree of risk," he will say.

"Instead, politicians and campaigners are lining up to lecture, harass and insult those of us who choose to smoke a perfectly legal product."

'Social killjoys'

Claire Fox, director of the Institute of Ideas, will say the ban is a sign of "our small-minded times".

"These new modern puritans demonise our behaviour and preach illiberalism.

"We are constantly hectored about how anti-social smoking is, but the real social killjoys are those who don't trust adults to make decisions on their own."

From Sunday, smoking will be banned in nearly all enclosed public places and workplaces in England, including restaurants, offices, factories, shopping centres and taxi offices.

It follows bans in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Public Health Minister Caroline Flint said last week that the number of people aware of England's smoking ban had risen to 95%.

"A smoke-free England will see the single biggest improvement in public health for a generation," she said.


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