The image of the smoky English pub is history, after MPs in the lower House of Commons voted to ban smoking in bars and clubs. Planned exemptions were swept aside.
Health Minister Patricia Hewitt said afterwards: “We’ve not only delivered on our manifesto, we’ve gone those two additional steps further by banning smoking with a huge parliamentary majority not only in all licenced premises, but also in those membership clubs as well. This Bill is going to save thousands of people’s lives.”
The Scottish and Northern Irish have already decided to ban smoking, while the Welsh have approved the idea in principle. Views about the decision were mixed. “It should be people’s choice. It’s their health, you know, it’s up to them,” said one woman.
Another man suggested: “There should be a room for non-smokers and a room for smokers, then they’ve got the choice.”
The Bill is expected to pass the upper House of Lords and become law in the middle of next year. The country would then fall into line with many others in Europe – Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Malta have similar rules.