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Government Knocks Manchester's Ban

Government minister Robert Jenrick has written to the Manchester council over its ban on outdoor smoking and vaping

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Baroness Lindsay Northover and the Local Government Association called on the government to ban smoking and vaping from pavement areas being used for pub and restaurant seating. While the government saw sense and ignored them, Manchester council implemented its own puritanical ban. Robert Jenrick has written to them demanding they drop this imposition.

Manchester Councillor Rabnawaz Akbar, executive member for neighbourhoods, explained the need for the ban by saying: “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.”

Having been booted out of pubs, smokers were none too impressed. Simon Clark, director of smoking pressure group FOREST, said the councillors were playing “political games”, adding “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.”

Jenrick, the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, has written to the council. In his letter he states that the last thing business need as they are recovering from the impact of the national COVID lockdown is the burden of more red tape.

Councillor Akbar responded angrily to what he termed, “the government’s unsubstantiated claims”, telling Jenrick: “You are perfectly correct in suggesting that people are entitled to make their own choice on whether they choose to smoke. However, I would ask, are non-smokers not also entitled to be able to breathe clean air?”

Since putting in this policy we have not had any major outcry from premises and there are still many venues across the city where people are free to smoke in designated outdoor areas. Smoking is still the cause of too many deaths in Manchester, and we will make no apologies for doing everything in our power to combat this. This is not targeting smokers but acting responsibly on overwhelming evidence which highlights the detrimental impacts of smoking and secondary smoking.”

An anonymous Conservative spokesperson informed the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “It is disappointing that Labour’s town hall bureaucrats want to make it more difficult for Manchester’s pubs, cafes and restaurants to operate in these challenging times. The government has ensured there is choice for smokers and non-smokers in these new pavement areas, but Manchester council wants to remove all choice for local residents.”

Akbar’s letter continued: “Smoking is still the cause of too many deaths in Manchester and we will make no apologies for doing everything in our power to combat this. This is not targeting smokers but acting responsibly on overwhelming evidence which highlights the detrimental impacts of smoking and secondary smoking.”

Many might question the actual threat posed by second-hand smoke in an outdoor street setting, and may also wonder about Akbar’s actual commitment to stopping smoking when underfunding the quit service has produced reviews that say:

  • Miss Kk – “Very bad been trying last 2 weeks and no one pick up try 9 am noon and all till half 5 what a joke there no point even having a phone number
  • Susan Jones – “What is the point of having a phone number because nobody ever answers (and I have tried on and off for months) and, there is no call back service! Very poor. I am leaving 1 star as not leaving any stars is not an option!!!”


  • Manc Ban Looms, POTV – [link]

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Dave Cross avatar

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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