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Thursday, 19 March 2009

Exclusive - Smoking ban will stay for G20 summit

On 12th March the Mail ran a story headed 'Labour 'double standards' as smoking ban is lifted for G20 world leaders' that claimed:

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.


Anonymous said...

Whilst I would like to think that the world will see first hand how far we have fallen, I imagine that the smokers will breach the ban and a fine will be paid - with our money!

DaveA said...

Hi Raedwald I think the DoH is misleading you. I was one of the people who helped break the story at

The 2006 Health Act banning smoking gives powers to the Home Secretary to exempt premises at his/her whim. I have spoken to the Press Office at the FCO and they could not give me a straight answer. Here is the wording.

"The Act will also give the appropriate national authority (Secretary of State in the case of England and the National Assembly for Wales in the case of Wales) powers to make regulations to exempt premises or parts of premises from smoke-free legislation, although, in general, no exemptions can be made for premises operating under a premises licence or club premises certificate (as specified in the Licensing Act 2003). The Act also provides powers for the appropriate national authority to make regulations to specify additional places as smoke-free and to require specified types of vehicles to be smoke-free."

Umbongo said...

The reply from the DoH states that "the Health Act 2006 makes no exemptions for diplomats or diplomatic events". However as DaveA points out exemptions are given to the premises not the event. So while the DoH's response to you may be accurate (and I haven't seen the question you actually posed or the exact information you requested), its reply avoids informing you whether or not an exemption will be or has already been granted to the premises for the period of the event.

DaveA said...

My guess is that the DoH said was that the ExCel Centre complies wih the Health Act 2006. This would make it true but entriely misleading.

The Filthy Engineer said...

And then if someone leans on Newham council........

Raedwald said...

Dave - interesting!

This one's certainly worth watching. Though I thought the SoS's powers to make regulations required him do so through SIs - and there hasn't been an SI exempting Excel yet that I know of.

Let's see what happens ...