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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 January 2007, 18:28 GMT
AMs reject Welsh smoke ban delay
Smoking in a bar in France
Wales is set to bring in a smoking ban weeks before England
Assembly Members have voted for a ban on smoking in enclosed public places in Wales on 2 April, despite an attempt to delay it until a ban in England.

An attempt by one Conservative and two Labour AMs to delay the ban until July was defeated by 39 votes to 12.

It means the ban will go ahead on the assembly government's planned date of 2 April, three months before England.

A smoking ban has existed in Scotland since March 2006, two years after the Republic of Ireland introduced a ban.

Clwyd South Labour AM Karen Sinclair had claimed pubs in border areas could suffer financially if smokers cross to England, after the ban is introduced in April.

Ms Sinclair joined forced with her Labour colleague, Vale of Clwyd AM Ann Jones, and Conservative Glyn Davies, AM for Mid and West Wales, ahead of the debate on the issue on Tuesday.

Following a free vote at the Senedd, a delay was voted down and the 2 April start date was backed.

'Four years late'

The assembly originally voted for a ban in January 2003, but had to wait until Parliament passed the necessary legislation allowing Wales to implement its own ban last year.

Welsh Health Minister Brian Gibbons called the ban on smoking in enclosed public places a "landmark" in public health that would save 400 lives a year.

During the debate in the Senedd, Dr Gibbons reminded AMs that their first vote on the smoking ban was four years ago.

He said: "It could be argued that we are over four years late on that very important resolution that was passed on that occasion with cross-party support.

"Smoke-free legislation is a public health measure of major importance."

'Major concern'

Ms Sinclair said pubs near the Wales-England border would be hit for 13 weeks if smokers crossed into England to visit smoking pubs between April and the start of the English smoking ban on 1 July.

She said: "I think it's important to stress at the outset that this amendment is not an attempt to reopen the debate on smoking in public places.

"I accept that this issue has been fought and it has been lost.

"The major concern I have is that many small pubs in my constituency are particularly vulnerable to a different implementation date because of their location on the border."

Labour AM Leighton Andrews said that widely-read London-based newspapers would carry adverts promoting only England's ban.

"We should introduce the ban on the same date as England in this instance, because of the nature of the media market in the UK it makes sense to bring the two together," he said.

The cost of advertising the ban would be 4m which could be better spent on new medicines, Tory Alun Cairns said.

He added: "That would be a far more effective use of the 4m if health is the genuine motivation of those who support it."

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