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New Clause 5 — Smoke-free premises: exemptions

Part of Orders of the Day — Health Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 14th February 2006.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Shadow Minister (Northern Ireland) 6:15 pm, 14th February 2006

Amendment No. 36 accepts that there may be a case for banning smoking in certain public places, but excludes pubs, restaurants and clubs and, indeed, the home. I declare that I am a smoker, but I consider myself to be a considerate smoker. I would not want to smoke in anyone's car, house or office, or even in their company, unless they were happy with that or smoked themselves. It is because I am a considerate smoker that I find the proposed measures intolerant, not to mention illiberal and belonging to the nanny state.

I understand the right of people not to inhale the smoke that I exhale, but there is no reason why the rights of both smokers and non-smokers cannot be accommodated. We already have non-smoking pubs springing up all over the place: there are some in my constituency. We have many pubs that are mixed, with smoking areas and non-smoking areas, and we have pubs that are smoking throughout. We hear from hon. Members on both sides that there is a great demand for non-smoking pubs, and if that is so, the free market, which I thought new Labour believed in these days, will deliver those pubs and everybody will be happy.

It is my contention that the person best placed to decide whether or not to have smoking in his establishment is the pub landlord or the restaurateur, with due regard to his staff and customers. I do not accept that a ban would not lead to an increase in smoking at home, and I am disappointed that so much concern is rightly expressed for the welfare and health of workers, but that few of those who make such protestations have talked about the rights of children in the home. Are they not to be protected? I am convinced that more people will smoke at home than at present, but we do not seek to protect the rights of children.