A healthy Hart

WITH Parliament dithering on the precise form of a smoking ban in public venues, many pubs are moving to total smoke-free atmosphere in advance of a change in the law. The White Hart, in Godmanchester, will be re-launched tomorrow (Thursday) with a comple

WITH Parliament dithering on the precise form of a smoking ban in public venues, many pubs are moving to total smoke-free atmosphere in advance of a change in the law.

The White Hart, in Godmanchester, will be re-launched tomorrow (Thursday) with a complete ban on lighting up after a total refurbishment to provide a more contemporary atmosphere.

Owner, Willem Middlemiss, said some of the regular drinkers who enjoyed a smoke were not very happy, but the majority of customers would be.

"I wanted to use the whole building in an equal way for food and drink rather than separate the bar and restaurant. The change is fairly radical, but it seemed the right time to do it," he added.


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The Three Horseshoes in Graveley, which went smoke free in June last year, recently won a National Clean Air Award.

The pub received the silver award from the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation for premises where smoking is restricted to external smoking shelters to eliminate the chance of second-hand smoke exposure.

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The pub would have been forced to become non-smoking by 2007, when new laws are expected to take effect, but landlord Alf Barrett decided to make sure that the Horseshoes was ahead of the game, protecting employees and customers now.

Mr Barrett said: "We're proud to see our hard work recognised. We set up a smoke free policy which means there is no smoking in the building at all. People no longer want to enjoy a drink and a meal whilst breathing in other people's smoke. We have had lots of positive feedback from our customers."

With the Government's proposal for pubs that do not serve food to continue to allow smoking under threat from the medical profession and at risk from its own backbenchers, it is not clear what the new law will be.

Nor is it clear who will enforce it, said Greg Peck, licensing officer for Huntingdonshire District Council, which took over responsibility for licensing from magistrates last year.

"It could be this section or our colleagues in environmental health," he said.

Although banning smoking had become a condition of some new licences, it was only in cases where the applicants wanted it so.

"It's not the sort of thing our licensing panels have the authority to insist on at

present," he added.

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