[JURIST Europe] British MPs voted Tuesday by an overwhelming margin to ban smoking in all public enclosed spaces beginning in the summer of 2007. Prime Minister Tony Blair [official profile], Chancellor Gordon Brown [official profile], and Home Secretary Charles Clark [official profile] were the among the Labor MPs [party website] who voted for a full ban instead of the limited version of the Health Bill [official PDF text] originally approved by Cabinet [JURIST report] last fall that would have allowed exceptions for smoking in pubs that do not serve food and exempting private members' clubs. The ban was approved on a free vote.
England now joins Scotland and Northern Ireland, where bills have already been passed banning public smoking [Independent report] that will take effect in March 2006 and April 2007 respectively. The current Health Bill contains a provision allowing the Welsh assembly [official website] to decide the matter for itself. The vote has been largely supported by health groups, unions, and pub owners who were worried about the possible exemption of private members' clubs. Others, such as Simon Clark, director of smoking support group Forest [advocacy website], opposed the vote, arguing that it is a disproportionate solution to the problem of second-hand smoke and denies the public freedom of choice for a legal product. BBC News has local coverage.
Angela Onikepe is an Associate Editor for JURIST Europe, reporting European legal news from a European perspective. She is based in the UK.