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Tuesday, Dec 01, 2020

Councils call for smoking to be banned outside pubs and cafes during pandemic

Smoking should be banned outside pubs, cafes and bars to make them more family-friendly, councils have argued.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents councils in England, is urging peers to support an amendment to the Business and Planning Bill which would make all pavement licences issued by councils subject to the condition they are smoke-free places.

It said it will help high streets recover from lockdown because the law would give customers and neighbouring shops the certainty they will not be exposed to second-hand smoke.

Councillor Paulette Hamilton, vice-chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, urged peers to give councils the powers to extend smoke-free areas to include pavements so the summer can ‘be enjoyed by everyone’.

She said: ‘Pavement licensing should not be a catalyst to increase smoking in public places, putting people at greater risk of ingesting second-hand smoke when they are enjoying a drink or a meal.’

The LGA added the measure would also contribute to the Government’s ambition of England becoming a smoke-free nation by 2030, following recent figures showing a continuing decline in the number of people smoking.

The Business and Planning Bill is due to have its third reading in the House of Lords on Monday.

One of the provisions is to fast-track the process by which cafes, pubs and restaurants in England can apply for temporary permission to put chairs and tables outside to allow premises to serve as many people as possible while respecting social distancing guidance.

A number of peers want the granting of pavement licences to be subject to the condition that smoking is prohibited.

The proposal is opposed by the Government, which argued that the emergency legislation should not be used as ‘a backdoor route’ to try to ban smoking outdoors.

Putting forward the amendment earlier this week, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Northover pointed out that more than 85% of people do not smoke.

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, described the proposal as ‘insane’.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: ‘We will not ban outdoor smoking.

‘Since the existing ban was introduced businesses have invested heavily in their outdoor areas and banning outdoor smoking would lead to significant closures and job losses.

‘Businesses should look at ways they can accommodate both smokers and non-smokers, while smokers should exercise public responsibility and be considerate.’
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