For smokers, the indoor smoking ban must be a bit of a pain because it means dragging yourself outside to light one up. For non-smokers, it's all been pretty great because you can actually go to pubs, restaurants, and other places like it without having to deal with a never-ending cloud of smoke inside. But English councils have decided this isn't good enough, and want smoking to be banned from outside these establishments - all, they say, to help the high street recover from lockdown.
Obviously nobody wants to walk down the street through a cloud of smoke, even if there are fewer smokers out there to produce it, and the Local Government Association is urging the House of Lords for an amendment that would ensure any pavement licenses the councils issued would come with the condition that they are smoke free. The point being that normally non-smokers would stay inside, but social distancing means that space is at a premium compared to the great outdoors.
So it's not going to stop people smoking by the pub door, or lighting up on the pavement, but it will mean Al Fresco dining and drinking areas won't be the haven of those who like to eat and drink while they smoke.
Paulette Hamilton, the vice-chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board, said: “Pavement licensing should not be a catalyst to increase smoking in public places, putting people at greater risk of ingesting second-hand smoke when they are enjoying a drink or a meal.”
The business and planning bill is due for a third reading in the Lords today, including such provisions like the option to fast-track the process for cafes, pubs, and restaurants to apply to put chairs and tables outside - and this is where the non-smoking bit comes into play. That said the government has opposed the idea (classic government) arguing that emergency legislation like this shouldn't be used as "a backdoor route" to try and ban smoking outside. A spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said:
“We will not ban outdoor smoking. Since the existing ban was introduced, businesses have invested heavily in their outdoor areas and banning outdoor smoking would lead to significant closures and job losses. Businesses should look at ways they can accommodate both smokers and non-smokers, while smokers should exercise public responsibility and be considerate."
Asking smokers to be considerate is one thing, but it only takes one person to light up to spoil the experience for everyone. And this means the outdoor drinkers and diners can experience the lovely aroma of inner city air pollution without the aroma of cigarette smoke getting in the way. [The Guardian]