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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 June 2004, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
Calling time on pub smoking?
Pub no-smoking sign
Many pubs already have partial restrictions on smoking
Three months after a total ban on smoking in public places was introduced in Ireland, measures are in place which one day could see Wales follow suit.

A committee has been set up in the Welsh assembly to look at the issue of lighting up in public.

The assembly government is currently unable to impose a ban, but a bill launched by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff and due before the House of Commons would give them that power.

Meanwhile, Cardiff-based brewer SA Brain has begun a survey asking customers and staff in 100 pubs whether they would like to see greater curbs on smoking on its premises.

Baroness Finlay, a cancer expert, launched her Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill in December last year.

If staff and customers want more smoking restrictions, then we want to know so we can take appropriate action
Philip Lay, SA Brain

It has been through three readings in the House of Lords and is due to be voted on in the House of Commons.

If it is made law, the bill would give the assembly the power to follow Ireland, Norway, California and New York in imposing a public smoking ban in Wales.

In January 2003, assembly members voted in principle to ban smoking in public places, but did not have the powers to impose any ban.

Baroness Finlay said at the time of her Bill's launch: "I wanted to empower (the assembly) to do what they have said they want to do."

On Tuesday, AMs voted to set up a committee made up of five AMs from the four main parties to re-examine the issue of smoking in public places.

At the same time, brewer SA Brain, which recently opened its first non-smoking pub, launched a 10-day survey in 100 Cardiff venues to find out whether customers want further smoking restrictions.

Aubrey Arms pub sign
The Aubrey Arms is SA Brain's first 'smokeless' pub

Philip Lay, the company's retail director, said: "I think there is mixed opinion and we are just trying to assess what the level of opinion is about this difficult topic.

"By balloting at pub level we can find out what they really think.

"If staff and customers want more smoking restrictions, from no smoking at the bar to a total ban in their local, then we want to know so we can take appropriate action.

"We have a number of pubs where there are segregated areas and we have also opened our first completely non-smoking pub."

Earlier this month, the brewer launched the Aubrey Arms, at Bonvilston, near Cowbridge, south Wales, as its first smokeless pub.

'Bothered with smoke'

Aubrey Arms customers Richard and Elaine Tanner told BBC Wales they preferred the no smoking rule at the pub.

Non-smoker Mrs Tanner said: "I would certainly travel a bit further if it meant I could relax in a smoke-free environment.

Smokers in Irish pub
Smoking has been banned in pubs in Ireland since March

"Having a child, it's of benefit to bring her in somewhere she is not going to be bothered with the smoke."

Mr Tanner, who smokes, added: "I don't have a problem with it. On a Saturday night out, it just means I walk a little further outside."

SA Brain said they were unlikely to introduce an Aubrey Arms-style blanket ban in all their pubs, but said they would listen to customers' views in the survey.

But Gareth John, of the Licensed Victuallers Association, Wales, said that different levels of smoking bans could be considered and said total bans had not been a complete success elsewhere.

He added: "We have a duty to look after our staff, their health and welfare.

"Many pubs could implement a ban at the bar and I hope these ballots encourage those who have not yet done so to consider it.

"The news from Ireland and New York is dreadful.

"Business is down and staff are being laid off.

"We need to continue to address our staff and customer concerns otherwise we could suffer the same fate."




SEE ALSO
Smoking ban after pub make-over
03 Jun 04 |  South East Wales
Smoking curbs: The global picture
01 Jun 04 |  Special Reports
Smoking ban first for Wales
18 May 04 |  Wales
Baroness' bill to ban smoking
11 Dec 03 |  Wales

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