The Liberal Democrat former health minister added: “The UK hospitality sector will not recover if we cannot make it an enjoyable experience for the majority of its clients – that includes all those non-smokers and their children – as well as safe and enjoyable for the staff who may already be worried about returning to work.”
She has linked up with a so-called “dream team” of anti-smoking peers, including Lord Young, a health minister under Margaret Thatcher, and former health secretary Lord Lansley, to bring in the ban, amid fears al fresco dining and drinking will expose more people to second-hand smoke.
Lord Greenhalgh, a communities minister, accused the peers of trying to use the legislation as a “backdoor route to try to ban smoking in public places”.
Insisting the Government had “no plan” to ban smoking in public places, he said: “Excessive regulation would lead to pub closures and job losses.
“Smokers should exercise social responsibility and be considerate, and premises are able to set their own rules to reflect customer wishes.”
Research by Forest in 2017 found that the 2007 smoking ban saw the number of pubs in England decline by 20.7 per cent.
Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland, the campaign director of Campaign for Pubs, criticised the move by his Liberal Democrat colleague, saying: “We don’t want to see any further changes to the law and believe that any decisions on smoking outside pubs should be made only by licensees.”
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, agreed and said: “With the future of so many businesses and jobs still hanging in the balance, additional restrictions are the last thing we need.”