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Friday, March 02, 2007

No smoke without fire

Amongst all the news of Charlotte Church's pregnancy (do all expectant mums now get a letter of congratulations from the First Minister or just the famous ones?) the BBC reports that one in three landlords have said that they are not ready for the public smoking ban, which begins here a month today.

Only 69 of the 100 pubs across Wales contacted by BBC Radio Cymru for the snap survey said they were prepared for the new law. This was one of the concerns that I raised during the debate on the regulations.

In Ireland businesses had an entire year to prepare for the ban and as a result it was introduced fairly smoothly. Although I am not expecting too many problems in April I do believe that more could have been done earlier to ensure that those on the front line, namely the pubs, will have everything in place on 2 April. This was an important recommendation in the Committee report I helped to write. It appears to have been ignored.

On the plus side we are told that the ban has 90% support amongst members of the general public and even a majority of smokers are looking forward to it. I am certainly eager to be able to go into a pub again without emerging smelling like an old ash tray.
Just how much preperation do you need to stick up no smoking signs and take away ash trays?
Not much, but smoking shelters need planning permission and unless you know the dimensions and rules that apply you would be wasting money going ahead before WAG had given you that detail.
So why did you vote against extending the implementation deadline by 13 weeks?
For a number of reasons. One was that the extra 13 weeks would have practically made very little difference in terms of implementation. Secondly, the Minister gave assurances that a lot of work was going on behind the scenes to prepare business. Finally, because symbolically it was important for Wales to lead the way in this and there were not strong enough reasons to say that we should not.
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