Back down the working men’s

I’m not a supporter of the prohibition of smoking in public places but there is one kind of smoking ban I would find acceptable: An ‘unworkable’ smoking ban. Ok, at a push I would also settle for a ‘shambolic smoking ban’.

It seems John Reid might be getting his way after all and that a slight amount of common sense might intervene. Do I detect something of a class struggle within cabinet over this issue?

Of course the problem with the government’s compromise on this issue – allowing people to enjoy a beer and a cigarette so long as their isn’t an anti-smoker nibbling on a bruschetta in the vicinity – is that it will distort the market and the choices people will make.

Put simply if I want a pint I’ll go to a pub that doesn’t serve food and which lets me spark up. And thousands will do the same. Frankly I’m glad of the excuse to turn down invites to Slug and Lettuces and All Bar Ones with their faux-gastro food and over-priced lager and happy with the incentive to stick to real boozers.

And surprise, surprise, the people who know most about our priorities when we go into a pub know this.

THOUSANDS of pub landlords are to stop serving food to enable their customers to carry on smoking, after ministers finally agreed yesterday to force them to make the choice.

After days of shambolic discussions, the Government decided to impose a ban on smoking in pubs that serve food but said it could continue in those that do not, including private members’ clubs. The decision provoked fury among anti-smoking campaigners.

A survey seen by The Times suggests that one in five pubs in England and Wales will stop selling food and allow people to smoke.

Of course bad legislation always has unintended knock-on effects and the reduction in the number of pubs serving food won’t be the only one. By allowing an exemption for ‘private members clubs’, the government will be giving an unintended but much-needed boost to working men’s clubs across the land.

So how long before Tessa Jowell and co put forward legislation to outlaw these ‘outdated’ establishments and force them to be ‘smoke free’ and serve “a minimum of three salad options”?

I’ll give it three years before the introduction of the ‘Hard-Working-Families Recreational Centres Bill’.

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Update: Maybe I was too optimistic. Here is Hewitt talking to the BBC:

“The bill that I am introducing today is going to ban smoking in every office, in every factory, every shop, every restaurant, every public transport, virtually every enclosed public space and work space.

….Ms Hewitt said she still believed that a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places, as planned or coming into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, was probably inevitable.

….Anyone found in breach of the smoking ban would be issued with an on-the-spot fine of £50, Ms Hewitt later told MPs on the health select committee.

I note that the BBC report solicits comment from a number of sources – all of which happen to be anti-smoking people who want the government to go for full on prohibition.

Of course the BBC do not ask for the opinion of any smokers or smokers’ organisations – the middle-class liberal media consensus at work again. Gosh, do you think there are people who actually like cigarettes Jeremy?

But is Hewitt really trying to pretend that the police force are going to march into town centre boozers and demand everyone with a fag in their hand pays £50 to the state?

Bring it on……