England Bans Smoking in Pubs and Clubs

England has banned smoking in pubs and all enclosed indoor spaces, joining the rest of its UK brethren.

MPs have voted by a huge margin to ban smoking from all pubs and private members’ clubs in England. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt said the change, expected to take effect in summer 2007, would “save thousands of people’s lives”. Ministers gave a free vote amid fears Labour MPs could rebel against plans to exempt clubs and pubs not serving food. The Commons decided by a margin of 200 to impose a ban on smoking in all enclosed public spaces.

The Cabinet was split on how far restrictions – set out in the Health Bill – should go, with Conservatives calling government policy a “shambles”. Prime Minister Tony Blair, Chancellor Gordon Brown and Home Secretary Charles Clarke all voted for a blanket ban. But Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell, Defence Secretary John Reid and Education Secretary Ruth Kelly opposed it.

A total smoking ban is due to come into force in Scotland next month, and Northern Ireland is set to follow suit in April, next year. The Health Bill gives the Welsh Assembly the right to decide for itself whether to implement a ban it has already twice approved in principle.


Earlier, health minister Caroline Flint said fines for failing to stop people smoking in restricted areas would go up by more than ten times from £200 to £2,500. She said: “I am confident that these increased fine levels will result in better compliance with smoke-free legislation, which of course, will make enforcement easier.”

So, not only are pub owners not allowed to decide how best to run their business but they are being drafted into the constabulary. Their employees may indeed now run less risk of getting sick from the long-term effects of second hand smoke but they now have a measurably increased risk of being injured by a cranky drunk denied his nicotine fix.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. yetanotherjohn says:

    Government forbid that market forces should at all come into play. Lower health risks for a place banning smoking would of course lead to so many applicants that the management would have to choose between paying market wages and getting the best of the best or paying below market wages as employees reap the hidden benefits not measured by a paycheck but by a longer life.

    A patrons don’t have to think even once about their balancing the factors of location, price, service, atmosphere, etc with the direct threat to their lives. What pub allowing smoking could possibly stay open when its competition could advertise “Drink here and we won’t be trying to kill you like that other place”.

    If banning smoking made since to the consumers of pub space, then the market place would reward pubs that banned smoking.

    I’m a non-smoker and am annoyed at smoke. But I would rather exercise my judgement as a consumer than have the government decide what is best for me.