Smoking should be banned outside pubs and cafes, councils say
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Smoking should be banned outside pubs, cafes and bars to make them more family friendly and help high streets recover from lockdown, councils have said.
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 that they are smoke-free places.
It said on Saturday that while people who wished to avoid exposure to second-hand smoke could normally to stay inside the coronavirus outbreak meant indoor space was more restricted.
Local authorities need the powers to reflect this and give customers and families the certainty that anywhere they go for a drink or a meal they will not be exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke, the LGA added.
It will also prevent neighbouring shops, particularly in cramped inner-city areas, from being exposed to second-hand smoke, it said.
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Paulette Hamilton, vice chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said councils should be given powers to extend smoke-free areas to include pavements so “this al fresco summer can be enjoyed by everyone”.
She added: “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.”
MORE: All you need to know about the ‘pavement licence’The Business and Planning Bill is due to have its third reading in the House of Lords on Monday.
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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.
Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, described the proposal as “insane”, adding: “There is absolutely no justification for government to intervene on public health grounds because there is no evidence that smoking outside is a significant risk to non-smokers.
“Government should be reducing red tape, not adding to it with arbitrary regulations that can only hurt the hospitality industry.”
An 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.
“We are helping our pubs, cafes and restaurants safely reopen and securing jobs by making it quicker, easier and cheaper to operate outside. The Government’s priority is protecting public health against the transmission of the Covid virus, whilst ensuring the venues remain open and be economically sustainable.”