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Manc Ban Looms

The government refused to bow to the Local Government Association’s demand to ban smoking and vaping from outdoor areas, but Manchester now follows York

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First Baroness Lindsay Northover called for a ban smoking (and presumably vaping) from pavements being used for pub and restaurant seating, using COVID-19 as an excuse to get puritanical. The Local Government Association (LGA) then demanded the government act, which it didn’t but York council did. Now Manchester is implementing its own act of prohibition.

Manchester Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “Smoking is not only terrible for our health but is also an unpleasant thing for bystanders to endure. I am sure that after months inside the last thing people want is a face full of smoke when trying to enjoy a meal or drink.

We are seeing the public enjoy a degree of normality, and we are also seeing our businesses pick up following the devastating impact of the lockdown. However, we have not endured one health crisis to sleepwalk into another. We know that in Manchester there are still too many people smoking and we want to play our part to ensure that the city is a place where smoking is not a cultural norm.”

The ban comes in with immediate effect and will apply to all future outdoor seating applications from the hospitality sector.

Ranald Macdonald, managing director of Boisdale Restaurants in London, responded to the LGA call for a pavement ban by saying: “It is bewildering how out of touch the Lords and LGA can be. They are sounding the death knell for a hospitality sector that is already on life support and needs all the help it can get to survive. The smoking ban in 2007 caused thousands of pubs and restaurants to close. Now, at a time when over a million jobs in hospitality are at risk of being lost due to the pandemic, this proposed new ban will definitely cause hundreds of thousands more livelihoods to be lost. Whatever happened to freedom of choice? The proposed ban will simply mean that more people will smoke and drink at home, something they have become quite used to of late."

Simon Clark, director of smoking pressure group FOREST, told BBC’s 5Live this was not the time for “political games”, describing  the LGA’s call as “insane” and adding: “There is absolutely no justification for government to intervene on public health grounds because there is no evidence that smoking outside is a significant risk to non-smokers. Government should be reducing red tape, not adding to it with arbitrary regulations that can only hurt the hospitality industry."

Commenting directly on the Manchester ban, Clark said: “The council has shamefully used the coronavirus crisis to force its anti-smoking agenda on local businesses and local people. The industry is facing a huge challenge, and this could discourage a lot of smokers from returning after lockdown.

"Every business is different which is why proprietors should be allowed to choose their own policy on smoking based on customer demand. There is no evidence that smoking in the open air is a threat to non-smokers, so this is not even a public health issue. Smokers must be considerate to those around them, but non-smokers should also be tolerant of those who wish to light up outside with a drink."

Planet of the Vapes has contacted Manchester Council officials to clarify if vaping is also included in the ban but none have responded.

Have you been banned from vaping in the seating outside a pub or restaurant? Let us know.


  • LGA: Alfresco summer calls for smoke-free pavements – [link]
  • Northover’s comments to the Lords – [link]
  • Forest – [link]
  • York goes continental, YorkMix – [link]

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Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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