De staatssecreatris van Volksgezondheid John Reid heeft de horecaorganisaties in Engeland gelast met maatregelen te komen die op de middellange termijn moeten leiden tot een algeheel rookverbod in de Engelse pubs.
Het ultimatum is gesteld in een geheim onderhoud tussen horeca-organisaties en de regering en vraagt om een aanpak zoals in Noorwegen: steeds minder mogelijkheden tot roken.
Zowel FOREST, de Engelse rokersorganisatie, als de horeca lijkt in Engeland nauwelijks in de gaten te hebben waar het allemaal om draait….
Until now it has been thought that the ban would be achieved by devolving the decision to local councils. However, Reid believes the plan is too complicated. Likewise health officials are concerned an overnight ban may also have problems. The Irish government, which banned smoking in public places last March, spent several years educating the public before it introduced prohibition.
Instead Reid has suggested a ‘phased’ strategy which has found support from both the hospitality industry and health campaigners. It draws its inspiration from Norway, where the government started phasing in smoking restrictions in the late 1980s, stipulating that 25 per cent of all tables in bars and restaurants must be non-smoking. Over the next 15 years it increased the percentage; first to 50 per cent, then 75, and finally, this June, to an outright ban.
Anti-smoking groups gave a cautious welcome to the news. ‘The Norwegian model is worth looking at, but it took more than 10 years for Norway to go completely smoke-free,’ said Deborah Arnott, director of Action on Smoking and Health. ‘We certainly don’t think it should take that long here.’
Mark Hastings, a spokesman for the British Beer and Pub Association, which was represented at last week’s meeting with Reid, declined to comment specifically on the government’s new plan, but acknowledged that it was something being examined ‘as part of a broad range of options’.