MPs from the three main political parties will join forces today to support a campaign to change the smoking ban.
The Rt Hon Greg Knight, Conservative MP for East Yorkshire, Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, and John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley, will host a reception for the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign at the House of Commons.
Over 200 supporters of the campaign, including publicans and members of the Clubs & Institute Union which represents over 2000 working men’s clubs, are set to attend the event which marks the fourth anniversary of the smoking ban in England [1 July 2007]. Organisers say they will be lobbying MPs for a review of the ban and an amendment to the legislation.
According to campaigners, the ban has had a devastating impact on community pubs throughout Britain. Almost three years after the introduction of smoking bans in England, Scotland and Wales, Scotland had lost 7.1% of its pub estate (467 pubs), Wales 7.3% (274), and England 7.6% (4,148).
The ban, they say, has also hit working men’s clubs, many of which have closed or are struggling to survive.
Save Our Pubs & Clubs is a coalition of groups and individuals who believe the smoking ban is excessive and should be amended to offer choice, protect jobs and help struggling establishments get back on their feet.
Campaigners said they want a review of the ban and an amendment to the legislation that would give pubs and private members’ clubs the option of having separate, well-ventilated smoking rooms.
Greg Knight MP, who helped launched the Save Our Pubs & Clubs campaign in 2009, said: “This is a unique opportunity for people to show how strongly they feel on this important issue. A modest change in the law, not a repeal of the smoking ban, is all we seek.”
Mick McGlasham, general secretary of the Clubs & Institute Union, which is supporting the event, said: “The ban was passed because politicians wanted to protect staff and non-smokers but there is no reason why we cannot have a separate smoking room in what are private premises, especially with modern ventilation.”
Simon Clark, director of Save Our Pubs & Clubs, said: “Looking at the dramatic increase in pub closures since the introduction of smoking bans in Scotland, Wales and England, it is clear that the ban has been a big factor in the closure of many pubs and clubs throughout Britain.
“The Government should review the ban and consider a change in the law that would allow separate smoking rooms in pubs and clubs.”