Beer Garden Ban Bid

Posted 19th May 2020 by Dave Cross
Professor Des Cox, The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI), is seeking to capitalise on the staggered relaxation of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Ireland by pushing for a ban on vaping and smoking in outdoor spaces like pub beer gardens. Tory Mark Pritchard, MP for The Wrekin in Shropshire, is pushing a similar line of nonsense in the House of Commons.

If outdoor areas are to be used to facilitate social distancing when bars open up again, then smoking should be prohibited from all areas of all pubs when they reopen,” Professor Cox told the Irish Minister for Health. “There is no risk-free level of second-hand smoke and we need to protect the general public and in particular bar staff from the well-recognised health implications of second-hand smoke.”

Cox was one of those in Ireland who argued in favour of banning vaping following the outbreak of lung disease in America caused by illegal THC oil-based carts: “We need to protect children from the dangers of both tobacco smoking and nicotine addiction by ensuring they never start either tobacco products or e-cigarettes.”

Flavouring in e-cigarettes has most likely contributed to the upsurge in adolescence vaping in the US, so it is certainly worthwhile discussing a placing some restrictions on flavouring here in Ireland.”

Studies have demonstrated that teens do not begin vaping because of flavour, and that harm reduction works for those about to embark on smoking as much as it does for adults.

You can guarantee that this ardent anti-vape campaigner would add vaping into his list of things to ban should he manage to convince the politicians to prohibit smoking in beer gardens.

We Vape

Smokers are more likely to be vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. The act of smoking involves your hands touching your face. So, in the setting of a pandemic those activities should be discouraged, and we would strongly recommend that people speak to smoking cessation services such as,” Cox added.

In England, Mark Pritchard MP has written to the Health Secretary Matt Hancock. He wants smoking and vaping banned from outdoor seating areas at pubs, cafes and restaurants when they’re opened back up to the public.

"Why should non-smokers be forced to breathe in other people's smoke because Covid-19 forces more people to eat outside. There should be smoke-free areas where people can eat and drink. There should also be places where people can smoke freely. It's about fairness."

This illiberal stance continues the demonization of smokers and removes the option of business owners to consider what is best for their trade – quite some feat for a parliamentarian who calls himself a “libertarian”.

Clearly people are free to do what they want as long as it accords with Pritchard’s world view. As he told a House debate on heated tobacco products: “As a non-smoker, I think there is nothing worse than sitting outside a café in London or Shropshire and having my lungs full of somebody else’s smoke, or indeed trying to walk to Parliament and taking in a street full of smokers’ smoke.” [link]


There is nothing hypocritical about his statement. Mark Pritchard certainly isn’t the kind of MP who would say negative things about nicotine product use but accept gifts from Imperial Tobacco and Japan Tobacco International. [link]

Maybe the law should be ‘You may vape or smoke anywhere outside where Mark Pritchard isn’t’? Or maybe vapers and smokers could all club together to raise £3000 a month to get him to shut up? [link]

"Imposing new rules that may reduce the number of customers who are tempted back after the lockdown restrictions have been eased could hinder their ability to get back on their feet. If Mr Pritchard has evidence that smoking outside poses a risk to non-smokers, he should produce it,” FOREST’s Simon Clark told the Shropshire Star.

Jo Churchill, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care, responded to Pritchard, saying: “The Government has a track record of reducing the harm caused by tobacco. The United Kingdom is a world leader and has been rated the best in Europe on tobacco control by independent experts.”

“The Health Act 2006 and the Smoke-free (Premises and Enforcement) Regulations 2006 made it illegal to smoke in public enclosed or substantially enclosed areas and workplaces. Local authorities retain overall responsibility for the enforcement of the smokefree legislation and retain the power to make by-laws.”


“We support development and implementation of smoke-free policies locally in and around public premises. We believe local authorities are best placed to make decisions about the local populations which they serve.”

There’s no evidence to support Pritchard’s desire to ban smoking from beer gardens, he simply doesn’t like smoking or smokers. He probably loathes vapers too, so they’d be next to go from his local. Then, maybe, people who (unlike him) don’t take bribes. The atmosphere of a pub beer garden would definitely be improved by taking one action: banning Mark Pritchard MP from it.


  • Is there now an argument for banning e-cigarettes in Ireland?”, Professor Des Cox – [link]
  • MP writes to Health Secretary in call for new smoking rules”, Shropshire Star – [link]

Image by Markus Distelrath from Pixabay

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker
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