Labour has been accused of double standards for amending legislation to allow world leaders to use smoking rooms during the G20 economic conference. Dozens of heads of state, politicians and diplomats will be meeting at the Excel Exhibition Centre in Docklands, London, next month. It is believed that laws have been changed to get around the smoking ban and provide specialist rooms that the visiting dignitaries can use.
Well, the boat immediately fired off two FOI requests; one to the Department of Health and one to Newham Council. The DH has responded quickly and unequivocally, saying
I have been advised that the Health Act 2006 makes no exemptions for diplomats or diplomatic events. Those accountable for the premises to which you refer (enclosed public premises and workplaces, which should be smoke-free at all times) are legally obliged to ensure that no smoking takes place. The relevant local authority (in this case, Newham Council) is responsible for enforcement for premises within their borough. If there is a breach of the regulations the local authority enforcement officers will need to consider appropriate enforcement action.I'll update you when I have Newham Council's response, but for now it looks as though any world leaders gasping for a nicotine hit will have to huddle on the dockside terrace just like the rest of us, but no doubt behind a bullet-proof screen that meets the requirements for smoking shelters under the 2006 Act. Perhaps they'll leave it behind for the next boat show.