Partial smoking ban would be 'unfair and unworkable'
Members of the Commons Select Committee on Health said plans to allow smoking in private clubs and pubs that did not serve food were "unfair, unjust and unworkable".
The MPs called for ministers to impose a full ban on smoking in all public places, including military bases and prisons, saying that the proposed exemptions to a ban represented "a recipe for chaos".
The committee's chairman, the Labour MP Kevin Barron, took a sideswipe yesterday at the Defence Secretary, John Reid, who led a cabinet battle against a full ban. Mr Barron warned: "The case is one of protecting political egos, not protecting public health."
In a strongly worded report, the all-party committee condemned the Government for its "muddled and vacillating" response to the debate about smoking. Its report said: "The exemption for clubs and pubs where food is not served is illogical. It means that workers who are most exposed to second-hand smoke, and therefore most at risk, will not be protected. We have sought from the Government a convincing rationale for this, but have not found one. It defies logic."
Ninety-five MPs, including 64 Labour backbenchers, have signed a parliamentary motion calling for a free vote, while 89 MPs, including 53 Labour, have signed up to a motion supporting a complete ban.
The chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, also revealed that he threatened to resign after his advice on the issue was ignored.
Mr Barron declared that it would be "very difficult" for MPs to back a partial ban, given the strong evidence in favour of a total prohibition on smoking in public places.
He said: "The Government is missing out on a golden opportunity to dramatically improve the public health of this country. The current proposals fly in the face of medical opinion and will do nothing to protect those most at risk.
"Only a total ban will protect the public from the lethal effects of passive smoking and ensure that people can work in an environment which is not dangerous to their health."
The report contrasted the experience of Britain with that in Ireland, where a full smoking ban has been brought into force. It warned: "Political support for a smoking ban in the Republic of Ireland is in stark contrast to the approach of the UK Government, which has been muddled and vacillating.
"Policy towards the control of smoking in public places and workplaces has been a litany of good intentions undermined by faint-heartedness."
The Conservative MP Anne Milton said: "This is the worst possible solution to this. It would almost be better to do nothing. Nobody, absolutely nobody, wants the partial ban."
- 1 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 5 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
Out-of-touch MPs ‘don’t get it’, says ex-Civil Service chief
Mark Zuckerberg: Facebook CEO's one simple test for who to hire
Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
'A girl is more responsible for rape than a boy': The statement that shocked the world... except India
The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...
£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...
£32000 per annum + pension, healthcare & 23 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A gro...