Wetherspoons to ban smoking in all its pubs

The pub giant Wetherspoons is to ban smoking in all its outlets by May 2006 amid fears that drinkers are staying away from public houses because they are too smoky, it was announced today.

The pub giant Wetherspoons is to ban smoking in all its outlets by May 2006 amid fears that drinkers are staying away from public houses because they are too smoky, it was announced today.

The company, which owns 650 pubs, said that 60 of those will become completely smoke-free from May of this year. The firm said it wanted to ban smoking two years ahead of new legislation.

Chairman Tim Martin attacked the Government's proposals, claiming that some pubs will still allow smoking if they do not sell food.

JD Wetherspoon said it will ban smoking from this May at its pubs in London, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham and Nottingham.

Mr Martin said: "An increasing percentage of the population are giving up smoking and a significant number of people are staying away from pubs and restaurants because they are too smoky.

"We have pioneered non-smoking areas but we now feel it is the right time to go one step further.

"The Government's approach to the issue of a smoking ban does not make sense since pubs can get around it by giving up food sales.

"We believe the Wetherspoon approach of a complete ban after a period of notice is the right one."

Campaign group Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) welcomed the announcement as a "significant development" and urged other pub chains and companies to follow suit.

Spokesman Ian Willmore said: "This is great news for Wetherspoons' staff as well as the general public. Wetherspoons are acting in advance of the rest of the industry."

The Government is planning to bring forward legislation banning smoking in all workplaces and most pubs but those which do not sell prepared food will not be covered.

Dame Helena Shovelton, chief executive of the British Lung Foundation, said: "We welcome the announcement today by the pub chain Wetherspoons that they will ban smoking in all of their venues by May next year.

"There are eight million people in the UK living with a lung condition, and for many of them, going into a smoky pub environment runs a real risk of triggering a lung attack, which can result in hospitalisation.

"We would urge all other pubs in the UK to follow Wetherspoons' lead and implement a total smoking ban as soon as possible."

The TUC welcomed the announcement and called on other companies to follow suit.

General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "One of Britain's biggest pub chains is acting to save its staff from the dangers of second-hand smoke.

"The bogus arguments that banning smoking is a threat to the pub, club and restaurant business must now fall flat on its face.

"But two many employers will continue to neglect their duty to keep their staff safe. It is the duty of the government to take the lead and make all workplaces smoke-free zones."

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