TV chef Antony Worrall Thompson joins campaign for limited pub smoking

Celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson today joined a campaign to amend the current smoking ban to bolster the pub and club industry.

The TV chef joined MPs from the three main political parties in calling for the comprehensive ban to be relaxed to help establishments losing revenue, laying off staff or facing closure.

One of the changes the group hopes will be considered is the adoption of the Spanish model - where venues with limited floor space can choose to be smoking or non-smoking, but venues larger than 100 square metres can have a designated, fully-partitioned, smoking room.

They are also proposing that smoking of tobacco be allowed in venues that can secure a licence by ensuring an agreed level of ventilation and air quality in all areas.

It is also hoped the Government could allow some discretion for local authorities in determining the nature and extent of smoking regulations.

The campaign is calling for urgent consideration of the changes to halt a decline that has seen six pubs closing every day, according to the British Beer and Pub Association.

Worrall Thompson, patron of the smokers' group Forest, said: "The smoking ban has had an extraordinarily detrimental effect on pubs and clubs, and you can understand why.

"They used to be bastions of adult entertainment where young and old could meet and chat over a pint without the health police looking over their shoulders.

"Modern ventilation systems combined with separate rooms make it perfectly acceptable to smoke indoors. The legislation as it stands is excessive and I would like to see it amended."

Greg Knight, Conservative MP for East Yorkshire, David Clelland, Labour MP for Tyne Bridge and John Hemming, Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley have all pledged their support to the campaign.

Mr Knight said: "I fully support this campaign. Britain's pubs and clubs are at the heart of every local community and the UK approach of banning indoor smoking everywhere is damaging the viability of many licensed premises where people wish to smoke.

"Pub landlords and club committees know best what their customers want and they should be allowed to provide smoking rooms if there is a demand."