I have to say, when witnessing the number of pubs and clubs that are closing down now, that this stupid ban was the death knell for many of them.

I should say at the outset that I do not smoke – gave up quite a few years ago – I am not in the licensed trade and have no connection with the tobacco industry. I am a joiner who is currently working part time and looking for full time employment. However, I really feel for the groups of smokers huddled in doorways and outdoor shelters around pubs – especially in the winter. Of course – many smokers don't, now, even bother to go to the pub – they stay at home.

My wife and I were in Spain recently and noticed such a difference in attitudes – far more relaxed about the whole thing (yes, I do realise that other factors, such as the weather, play a part also.)

I'm not advocating the allowing of smoking in all public houses – but that those who wish to allow it provide a seperate, well ventilated room in which smokers can indulge, and that those pubs must advertise smoking/ non-smoking  outside the premises. At least that way, people have the real choice.

Why is this idea important?

I am really astounded at the progress the new government has made on dismantling the ridiculous nanny/police state that 'New Labour' imposed on the citizens of this country. Even being asked a veiwpoint after an election is refreshing indeed.

The government raises a great deal of money from tobacco taxation. It also raises a significant amount from the sale of alcohol on licensed premises. Those same licensed premises are closing down at an alarming rate.

Whilst you may be afraid of the no doubt furious reaction from the health and safety lobby – the obvious qustion is: How many smokers have actually quit the habit – due to the smoking ban? Very few, I would guess.

This anti-passive-smoking lobby began with the wife of the late Roy Castle, who, after developing lung cancer, blamed the fact that he had performed in 'smokey working mens clubs' for many years, and in the course of playing trumpet, had to [quote] '…breathe in great lungfuls of air…'

Whilst Roy Castle was a talented entertainer, and one sympathises with his widow – what was simply a theory expounded by a man in a desperate situation soon became accepted as a fact – a scenario repeated time and time again in recent years: say it often enough, loud enough, ridicule anyone who puts forward a genuine argument, and, despite lack of evidence, eventually, it becomes accepted…

To tax tobacco – then ban it from being enjoyed by those who are addicted – and as a result hamstring tens of thousands of struggling businesses – is hypocrysy in the extreme.

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