Andrea Byrne moderates a Wales at Six debate on the calls to ban smoking in beer gardens
Campaigners in Wales are calling for smoking to be banned in beer gardens.
Action on Smoking and Health Wales (ASH Wales) - a campaign group working for a smoke-free Wales - is calling on the Welsh Government to 'protect children's health'.
It wants legislation that came into force in March banning smoking in the grounds of schools, hospitals and in playgrounds to be extended to the outdoor seating areas of pubs, bars and restaurants.
The proposal has been backed by Children’s Commissioner for Wales Sally Holland.
She said extending the regulations to areas where families gather would further de-normalise smoking in the eyes of children.
This would make them less likely to take up the habit themselves and protect them from the harms of second-hand smoke, she added.
According to ASH Wales' YouGov survey, 63% of adults in Wales are in favour of the proposal.
Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales, said: “Welsh Government has shown a really strong commitment to tackling smoking prevalence in Wales by becoming the first UK nation to ban smoking in school and hospital grounds and in children’s playgrounds.
“We believe it should now listen to the people of Wales and extend that ban to outdoor seating areas such as beer gardens where young people and families with children gather.
“It is really important to do all we can to ensure children are not exposed to the sight of adults smoking in everyday settings."
The Children’s Commissioner for Wales Sally Holland said extending the ban to outdoor seating areas of pubs, restaurants and cafes would both protect children’s health and take Wales a step further to becoming a smoke-free nation.
Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle said the Welsh Government’s long-term goal is to make more public spaces in Wales smoke-free.
She said: “The Welsh Government is taking action to reduce the health impacts of smoking and we intend to build upon the measures we introduced on 1 March 2021 which made hospital grounds, school grounds, public playgrounds and outdoor areas of childcare settings smoke-free.
“We are committed to our longer-term goal of making more of Wales’ public spaces smoke-free, in helping people to make positive changes to their health and wellbeing and to supporting our aim of a smoke-free Wales.”
Meanwhile, a smokers' group has called the proposal "monumentally stupid".
Simon Clark, director of the smokers' group Forest, said: "If publicans want to ban smoking in beer gardens that's their choice and there's nothing to stop them doing it now if they think it will be good for business.
"But pubs aren't health clubs and if publicans want to accommodate adults who wish to smoke they must be allowed to do so without further intervention.
"Threatening pubs with further regulations at the very moment the hospitality industry is trying to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic is monumentally stupid."