The Mayor of London and Smoking in Pub Gardens

Dr Vernon Coleman MB ChB DSc FRSA

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has supported a ban on smoking in pub gardens.

Iíve been campaigning against smoking since the 1950s (which is probably longer than the Mayor has been interested in the health problems of smoking) and, as a doctor, Iíve probably treated more patients suffering from the effects of smoking than he has.

But banning smoking in pub gardens is daft.

There is now clear evidence that banning smoking in pubs has simply pushed smokers into smoking (and drinking) at home.

And since booze is cheaper when you buy it at the supermarket, the exiled smokers drink far more than they drank and smoked in pubs.

Publicans have made it clear that if smoking in pubs is banned completely then more of them will go bust.

We have now reached the point where I am prepared to argue that, for the sake of the nationís health, we should have Ďsmoking pubsí where patrons are allowed to smoke indoors. Non- smokers who objected to cigarette smoke would be invited to do their drinking elsewhere.

Of course, the issue of passive smoking is also important.

And once again I have considerably more experience of this problem than the Mayor. Decades ago, I was the first doctor to write about the hazard of passive smoking and the opposition was vociferous for many years.

But if pubs which allow smoking in their beer gardens ban children, and make it clear to patrons that entrance to their beer garden is voluntary and not compulsory, then the risks are ameliorated.

The only potential victims are the smokers themselves.

So, why is the Mayor of London so determined to stop smoking in pub gardens when he must know that if he succeeds then many more pubs will close?

Could it be possible that the Mayor is supporting this proposed ban, in part at least, because he is a devout Muslim Ė and Muslims are fiercely opposed to the consumption of alcohol?

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