Naomi Long MP said: “I opposed this bid to reintroduce limited smoking in private clubs and pubs. Whilst it is presented as a matter of individual choice, what such proposals fail to reflect is that whilst patrons may be able to choose whether or not to enter such smoky environments, staff do not have the same options yet they deserve the same protections. Hospitality staff have a right to work in an environment that doesn’t damage their health.
“While I was a Belfast City Councillor, I proposed the ban on smoking in council buildings and facilities as I believe that we have a responsibility to ensure that everyone has a safe and healthy workplace.
“The positive impact that the smoking ban has had is there for all to see. It has helped many people quit smoking and has made restaurants and pubs a healthier and more pleasant environment for those who socialise and those who work there. Interestingly, the change in culture which accompanied the ban has also seen the number of people who have stopped smoking indoors in their own home increase significantly since the ban came into force, as people have adjusted to the idea that smoking inside is placing other at increase risk from passive smoking. The benefits of the legislation have impacted positively on a much wider group of people, including children, than was anticipated originally.
“The smoking ban has seen a change for the better in terms of public health and any attempt to row back from it would be a deeply damaging with significant implications for the NHS.”