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Council fumes after smoke blunder

17 July 07 14:44 GMT

Smokers in a Hampshire town can continue lighting up for another week after a mistake by the council.

Fareham Borough Council did not realise it needed to approve the new laws at a full council meeting and so does not yet have the power to enforce the ban.

It means that fines cannot be issued to smokers flouting the ban, but landlords are entitled to stop people smoking.

A full council meeting will be held on 26 July, where the new smoking laws should finally be authorised.

A council spokeswoman said: "This delay is unfortunate but the council is still aiming to achieve raised awareness, education and advice in the short term and then where appropriate enforcement.

"We didn't publicise that people could smoke. We had no intention to hoodwink people, it was purely an administrative decision.

"What we are expecting and finding is that the ban is self-regulatory and people are responding very positively in most areas."

The new law, which came into force on 1 July, means that pubs, clubs and restaurants and all enclosed public places are now smoke-free zones.

Owners and managers of pubs and clubs which fail to comply with the can face fines of up to £2,500 and individual smokers can be fined £50.

The majority of pubs and clubs in Fareham are already following the new rules, despite the absence of council enforcement.

Grant Taylor, from the Crown Inn in West Street, said: "We have enforced the ban for three weeks now, even though it hasn't gone through here in Fareham.

"We started our ban on 18 June. We are doing much better business and the pub now smells cleaner and a lot better."

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