Philip Johnston, one of the speakers in our recent Voices of Freedom series of debates, has written an article in today's Daily Telegraph that is summed up by the headline: Smokers could breathe life back into pubs.
I couldn't have written it better myself. Philip writes:
Why was the law not framed in a way that would reflect the interests both of the majority who favoured a ban and of those who would like to carry on puffing, whatever damage it might do to their health? Initially, it was envisaged that there would be exemptions for private clubs or the provision of smoking rooms in pubs, and their continuation in workplaces that had already banned smoking in most of their office space. A simpler route would have allowed landlords to designate their pubs as either smoking or non-smoking establishments, giving people – including staff – the choice of where to drink and work.
He quotes a letter by publicans representing the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign - and has some hardsh words for Nick Clegg's Your Freedom project:
If this is supposed to be a serious exercise in consulting the people, how come some things are already ruled out? True, the chances of getting capital punishment through the Commons are zero; and, in any case, Britain has signed international treaties promising that it will not be restored. But the same is not true of smoking. If a reasonable amendment to the ban was put before Parliament, there is at least a chance it might succeed, especially given its impact on the businesses of many MPs' constituents, which was not known when the law was passed.
The article concludes:
It is certainly worth having the debate: an amendment to the smoking ban is one of the most popular ideas on the Your Freedom website and a quarter of the population still indulges. But I wonder how many people who took Mr Clegg at his word and asked for this law to be looked at again realise that their contribution has almost certainly been a waste of time.
Full article HERE. You can comment.
Funnily enough, I am currently drafting a piece that will appear in the brochure for the Morning Advertiser's Great British Pub Awards dinner next month. It includes this quote from Antony Worrall Thompson: "It may be unfashionable to say so but pubs need smokers and we must do as much as we can to accommodate them."
22:50 I have just recorded a ten-minute piece with Duncan Barkes on TalkSport on the subject of the smoking ban and Philip Johnston's article. You'll have to be a night owl to hear it, though. Duncan's show is on air from 1.00-6.00am ... Me? I'm going to bed. Goodnight.