A call for the coalition Government to relax parts of the smoking ban is being supported by two of its Bradford MPs Bradford East MP David Ward and Shipley MP Philip Davies are backing efforts by the Working Men’s Club and Institute Union and the Save Our Pubs and Clubs Campaign for a review, following decisions in Denmark and Holland to allow smoking areas in some premises.
Liberal Democrat MP Mr Ward, a member of Idle Working Men’s Club, said club and pub owners should have the right to choose if they wanted to open an area for smokers inside their premises.
Conservative MP Mr Davies said he believed the outright smoking ban was causing major harm to the pub and club trade.
Mr Ward, who is also treasurer of the All Party Parlimentary Group for Non-Profit Making Members Clubs, said he felt it was time the Government heeded the calls for a review into the smoking ban.
He said: “I’m not somebody who is in favour of smoking. My father died when he was 60 years old and smoked from the age of 14 and I’m sure it didn’t help him, so I have strong personal views on smoking.
“But what we have to accept is that it is an addiction and people have a right to do with their own bodies as they wish.
“I do sincerely hope that over a period of time people are persuaded of the detrimental effects of smoking.
“However we do have a lot of people, and whether we like it or not, it is part of their life and it’s very much a part of their social life.
“So if there is a possibility of a separate area that can be made available for those who wish to smoke, then I think that should be allowed.”
Mr Davies said: “I don’t smoke and as it happens I don’t like going into smoky places, but I was vehemently opposed to a ban in public. I voted against it and spoke out against it in the debate.
“It has had a detrimental impact on pubs and clubs. It had a devastating effect on Bingley Working Men’s Club.
“I don’t think I was sent to Parliament to ban everybody else doing things that I don’t like myself, so whatever attempts there are to amend the smoking ban to allow a pub to have a dedicated smoking room, I would absolutely support.”
George Dawson, secretary of the West Yorkshire branch of the CIU, said he had lost a third of the bar takings at his club in Halifax since the ban came in during 2007.
He said: “Smokers are usually pretty good drinkers as well, It’s all right having a few folk coming in but if they are all on half a lemonade each it’s no good at all.
“I think it should be just moved back to what it was before.
“We used to have a sign on the door where it said ‘smoking throughout’, or ‘no smoking areas’ or ‘no smoking in the whole club’.
“I think it should be the club’s choice.
“Bradford, Airedale and Halifax has seen four closures and there are a lot of clubs that are close to the edge since the smoking ban was introduced in 2007.”