Boris Johnson blocks plans to ban smoking outside pubs after policy left ministers ‘outraged and bemused’

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Two people enjoy a cigarette outside the bars on Ashton Lane in Glasgow (Stock image)  (PA)
Two people enjoy a cigarette outside the bars on Ashton Lane in Glasgow (Stock image) (PA)

Boris Johnson blocked plans for smoking outside pubs to be banned after they were proposed by health secretary Sajid Javid, according to reports.

The prime minister is said to have intervened after the policy left members of his Cabinet “outraged and bemused”.

Ministers were reportedly concerned that further legislation targeting the hospitality industry would hamper its recovery from Covid.

Smoking inside pubs and restaurants was banned by Tony Blair’s government in 2007, though the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has been mulling an extension of the policy in recent months.

As part of the plans, tabled by the Government’s Health Promotion Taskforce, smoking would be completely banned outside pubs, restaurants and nightclubs.

Sources close to Mr Javid told the Daily Express that the policy is now “not happening”.

Another Government source said: “It’s not just about taking away freedom of choice but it is putting more red tape on businesses.”

In September, Oxfordshire announced plans to become the first county in England to ban smoking outdoors by 2025.

The county aims to reduce the number of teenagers who smoke down to three per cent as part of the plans.

Employers will also be encouraged to promote smoke-free environments and support staff to quit smoking.

A report by Dr Adam Briggs, the public health official leading the strategy, found smoking was the leading cause of preventable deaths in Oxfordshire, costing £120 million to the public purse each year.

But Tory MP Laurence Robertson, for Tewkesbury, said it was likely that such a policy would place further strain on venues if it was rolled out nationally.

He told the Express: “The pub industry has been battered too much already so it doesn’t need any more problems.”

Smoking outside venues has been banned by five councils – Northumberland, Durham, North Tyneside, Newcastle and the City of Manchester.

The Evening Standard has contacted the Department of Health for comment.

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