Fact #1. Smoking (and the consumption of tobacco products) is a legal activity.
Fact #2. An average of 21.5% of the UK adult (16+) population still smoked in 2008, according to Cancer Research UK.
Fact #3. In 2008, the UK tax revenue from smoking was £10 billion annually, according to the National Cancer Research Institute. The cost of smoking-related illnesses was £2.7 billion annually.
The implementation of The Smoke-Free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 was draconian and heavy-handed, particularly in regard to pubs and clubs. Publicans and Club committees (and by extension their customers and members) were not given a choice; it was a "one size fits all" regulation. The resultant 'smoking areas' within these establishments were subject to excessive design requirements to the point of being spiteful and vindictive and the only other alternative was to smoke out on the street.
My proposal is that the regulations be amended to allow pubs and clubs to decide their own smoking policies. Such establishments could declare themselves as being Smoking, Smoker-Friendly or Non-Smoking places and display a sign accordingly. This would give the general public information on which to make their choices. If you're a non-smoker, avoid Smoking pubs and vice-versa. You could even levy a licence fee (say £365 annually) for an establishment to allow smoking on its premises.
No doubt on reading this there will be the usual responses from non-smokers saying "what about those that work in the pub/club – shouldn't they be protected from the smoke?" The answer is simple – If the landlord/committee decides upon a smoking policy, then the staff should sign a declaration saying that they agree to work under those policy conditions. If not, then they should seek employment in a smoke-free pub/club.
Why is this idea important?
I believe this amendment would be important because:
a. The public were never given any choice on these regulations
b. Pubs and clubs (even private members' clubs) were never given any choice on these regulations
c. Pubs and clubs are shutting down at an alarming rate and this amendment would go some way to attracting back customers
d. For a government to derive £10 billion annually from a legal activity and yet deny the smoking public the right to enjoy it in a pub/club is rank hypocrisy.