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‘Extend smoking ban to beer gardens’ says report

Smoking should not only be banned inside pubs and restaurants in the UK, but beer gardens and outside tables too, a report has recommended.

Beer gardens may never be as full of life as this one if the RSPH recommendations are taken on board (Photo: Wiki)

The Royal Society of Public Health (RSPH) said that discouraging people from visiting their local beer garden by extending the ban on indoor smoking to include outdoor areas should be considered as a means of reducing ill health.

The suggestion is likely to worry pub operators that have already been routed by the ban on smoking in indoor public places, which was introduced in 2007.

This legislation is commonly cited as a contributing factor to the decline of British pubs. Research published by the Campaign for Real Ale last week said that as many as 29 pubs are now closing down every week in the UK.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, told the BBC: “Banning smoking outside pubs and bars will discriminate against adults who quite legitimately prefer to smoke.

“It won’t stop people smoking, it will simply deter more people from going to the pub and that could lead to even more pub closures.”

RSPH estimated that visitors to pub beer gardens would be halved by an extension of the smoking ban – customers that pubs can ill-afford to lose.

The report said, “If smoking was banned from outside pubs and bars 50% of adults would be more likely to use these areas,” and “roughly one third of smokers” would be more likely to use “alternatives to cigarettes” including cigarettes.

However, given that e-cigarettes are unregulated at a national level in the UK, many public places are beginning to ban them as part of their company policies. It would leave confusion among smokers and so-called “vapers” – people who use e-cigarettes – as to where they can and cannot smoke.

For example, nearly every airline, rail and bus operator has banned the use of e-cigarettes, even though they cause no ill-health to the user or the public because they only contain nicotine – a substance as harmful as caffeine.

Shirley Cramer, chief executive of RSPH, said “Getting people onto nicotine rather than using tobacco would make a big difference to the public’s health – clearly there are issues in terms of having smokers addicted to nicotine, but this would move us on from having a serious and costly public health issue from smoking related disease to instead address the issue of addiction to a substance which in and of itself is not too dissimilar to caffeine addiction.”

The RSPH report was based on a survey of over 2,000 British adults by polling firm Populus.

Correction: We initially reported that the ban on smoking in pubs was introduced in 2004. This has been corrected to 2007.

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