Blanket ban on smoking in public is denied

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Reports that the Government is set to introduce plans for a blanket ban on smoking in public were strongly denied last night.

Reports that the Government is set to introduce plans for a blanket ban on smoking in public were strongly denied last night.

Reports in The Observer and The Sunday Times said ministers were planning to ban smoking in public places, including all pubs and restaurants. But the Department of Health insisted that was not the case. A spokeswoman said a consultation document to be published tomorrow would go no further than the White Paper issued last November.

That document set out plans to ban smoking in all workplaces, restaurants, and the 90 per cent of pubs which prepare and serve food. But the then Health Secretary John Reid said smoking would still be allowed in pubs which did not serve food, and in private clubs - subject to the agreement of members.

There were reports Mr Reid's successor, Patricia Hewitt, would pursue a tougher line. Health experts, including Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, have long called for a total ban to protect non-smokers from the dangers of second-hand smoke. But the Department of Health said nothing had changed. The Government will launch a consultation document on its Health Improvement Bill tomorrow. The spokeswoman said: "The consultation being published by the Department of Health will go no further than the proposals contained in the Public Health White Paper set out last year. It will not contain proposals for a blanket ban."

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