Monday, 2 July 2007
Given how fraught the original decision was to ban smoking in pubs, restaurants and work places, it is surprising how little fuss there has been since the ban actually took effect. Alan Johnson, the new health secretary, rightly hails its popularity. Visiting our local in Keynsham yesterday, it was a pleasure to experience the smoke-free atmosphere in the older, cosier part of the pub. People ate meals in the once smoky lounge. The landlady reported brisker business than usual. And the smokers popped outside between showers without too many grumbles. None of this was surprising given the successful experience of Ireland, Scotland and New York. But there were still many arguing for partial bans even two years ago. That we had a full ban is not just an important part of Tony Blair's legacy, it is a tribute to the tenacity of Caroline Flint, the public health minister until Thursday, who argued over the merchants of doom to win the day. The non-smoking majority should toast her.