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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 October 2007, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Smoking ban loophole on platform
Passenger smoking on platform
Fishguard rail station is owned by Stena Line ferry company
Train passengers are being allowed to smoke at Fishguard railway station in Pembrokeshire for health and safety reasons, despite bans elsewhere.

Station managers say the end of the platform, which is a level crossing, is "too dangerous" for smokers to congregate at because of heavy traffic.

So they are allowed to smoke on the platform instead.

A council spokeswoman said the platform was exempt from the ban because it was not enclosed enough.

Smoking in enclosed and substantially enclosed spaces became illegal in Wales in April, and in England in July.

The law covers most public premises including public transport and many public buildings.

Smokers risk a 50 fixed penalty if they are caught lighting up where they are not supposed to be.

The responsibility for enforcing the smoking ban in Fishguard is that of Pembrokeshire Council but they are allowing smoking at the station to continue.

It seems that because it is such a busy thoroughfare, smoking on the platform is the lesser of two evils
Arriva Trains spokeswoman

A council spokeswoman said it enforced smoke free premises in enclosed and substantially enclosed public places but that the Fishguard platform did not fall within these definitions.

"It is a matter for the railway operator," she said.

Many stations in England and Wales are owned by Network Rail and leased to train operating companies.

The Association of Train Operating Companies brought in a ban on smoking across these stations, including on platforms.

But because Fishguard Station is owned by the Stena Line ferry company, it is outside of the train operator's jurisdiction.

Stena Line, which runs services to Rosslare, Ireland from Fishguard, said the only place where ferry passengers could smoke if it were banned on the station would be at the level crossing at the end of the platform.

But it said it was not safe for passengers to gather there.

A spokesman for the company said: "It is a health and safety issue because we feel it is too dangerous for passengers who want to smoke.

It is excellent to find a place where we can escape the nicotine police who seem to be on every corner
John Patterson, passenger

"The end of the platform is a very busy level crossing and is a main thoroughfare for haulage vehicles.

"Coaches and taxis also use this area regularly. Congestion in this area is a main concern."

A spokeswoman for Arriva Trains, which operates services into and out of Fishguard, said they had no power to enforce the smoking ban in Fishguard railway station because it is owned by Stena Line.

"It seems that because it is such a busy thoroughfare, smoking on the platform is the lesser of two evils," she said.

The smoking ban loophole was described by one passenger using the train and ferry service as a "merciful release".

John Patterson, 38, of Newbury, Berkshire, added: "It is excellent to find a place where we can escape the nicotine police who seem to be on every corner."



SEE ALSO
Q&A: The smoking ban in Wales
02 Apr 07 |  Wales
Cigarette buying age raised to 18
30 Sep 07 |  Scotland
'First' smoking prosecution bid
11 Jul 07 |  Lancashire
Timeline: Smoking and disease
30 Jun 07 |  Health

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