'If the Government bans smoking, why not ban drinking - and sex, while we're at it'

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Indy Politics

"Yes, technically I can see that you could argue that smoking in a pub could kill someone but that doesn't mean the Government has the right to kill off an English tradition," says Ms Povey, 25, who will smoke 10 cigarettes before the night is out as she unwinds from a hard working week. "A ban might work in Ireland but it's because people are so much more laid back."

Six months ago, the most that people in this town knew about Irish pubs was that a ban on smoking existed within them. Now, everyone seems to have sampled that experience. Despite stories to the contrary, Alasdair Voisey, 30, a salesman, claims there is a 30 per cent drop in trade because of the policy. He smokes 20 a day and says: "It has to be down to the landlord, not central government, whether it's a non-smoking pub. I, for one, definitely would not go into a pub where I could not smoke. I like a smoke with a meal as well, so the policy about non-smoking in pubs serving food doesn't work for me either."

But he was interested in a business spin-off from the smoke-free policy: selling outdoor canopies to pubs for use as no-smoking areas.

Linda Richards, a midwife, knows what he is talking about. She has seen the smoking areas outside Irish pubs and says: "that's where smokers belong". "I just don't think smoking should be allowed in pubs. I can see the objections to a top-down government policy on the issue but something has to be done. Let's just have the policy and be done with it. We in the health service see the effects." Her friend Jean Haig, 44, also in the health service, agrees. "We've been in a pub after a funeral this afternoon and the smoke was awful. You can tell someone's smoking the minute you walk in."

Near the bar, John Ramsden shakes his head at the mention of government interference . "I'm a smoker and I certainly don't want to become even more of a leper," he says. "There are some pubs where you can only smoke at the bar and maybe it's the landlord's right to decide that. But if the Government is going to stop us from smoking, why not just ban drinking - and sex, while we're at it?"