Many have spoken out against putting extra restrictions on the hospitality industry during the pandemic (Pictures: Getty Images)
Smokers in Wales may soon be unable to light up in beer gardens or other outdoor seating areas, following calls to make the country smoke-free.
Many parts of the UK are working towards having a smoking population of 5% or lower, with England aiming to achieve a smoke-free status by 2030.
Earlier this month, five local authorities in England banned smoking outside hospitality venues.
So any smokers who visit pubs, bars, restaurants or cafes in Newcastle City, Manchester City, Durham County, Northumberland County, or North Tyneside will not be allowed to have a cigarette anywhere near the property.
Now Wales, which banned smoking areas around schools and hospitals just two months ago, may also go a step further and prohibit people from smoking outside any hospitality venue.
The majority of adults in Wales – 63% – are in favour of the ban, according to a survey by Action on Smoking and Health Wales.
The organisation’s chief executive, Deborah Arnott, said: ‘It is really important to do all we can to ensure children are not exposed to the sight of adults smoking in everyday settings.
‘Some 81% of adults in Wales were under 18 when they tried their first cigarette. By de-normalising smoking we hope to prevent many more from being caught in the grip of this deadly addiction.’
Previously she said the ban would be ‘easy for pubs and cafés to comply with’.
The campaign has the backing of Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Sally Holland, who believes the law would help ‘de-normalise smoking for kids’.
Hospitality staff in Wales would have to enforce the smoking ban (Picture: Getty Images)
Action on Smoking and Health Wales said the ban ‘will be easy for pubs and cafés to comply with, simple to enforce and popular with the public’ (Picture: Getty Images)
Many UK local authorities are trying to achieve smoke-free status – where an area has a smoking population of 5% or less (Picture: Getty Images)
But the UK’s hospitality chief Kate Nicholls said the ban would be a ‘hugely disproportionate step’ at a time when the hospitality industry has been put into a ‘very fragile state’ by the pandemic.
She said: ‘It would impose a burden on our hard-working staff, who can well do without the risk of conflict that could arise when challenging customers breaching the rule especially now, when they are already coping with the extra burden of Covid regulations and maintaining social distancing.’
Similarly the director of the pro-smoking rights group Forest (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco), Simon Clark, said threatening more regulations in the wake of the pandemic was ‘monumentally stupid’.
‘If publicans want to ban smoking in beer gardens that’s their choice and there’s nothing to stop them doing it now if they think it will be good for business,’ he said.
‘But pubs aren’t health clubs and if publicans want to accommodate adults who wish to smoke they must be allowed to do so without further intervention.’
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