Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Memorandum by Business In Sport and Leisure Limited (SP 46)


  Business In Sport and Leisure is an umbrella organisation that represents over 100 private sector companies in the sport and leisure industry. Its members include most of the major operators of commercial sport and leisure in the UK and many consultants who specialise in this field. The value of members of BISL is in excess of £40 billion. BISL works through five working groups which cover sport, liquor licensing; gambling; employment; and planning and property. The BISL Handbook; "the Active Annual" which gives details of our activities and lists our member companies is available on request.

  In summary BISL believes that a total ban on smoking in public places should be a long term aim without exemptions. Additional time should be offered to all licensed premises before a complete ban is enforced. This should be not before 2010.

  The following points utilise the terms of the Department of Health Consultation On The Smokefree Elements of the Health Improvement and Protection Bill in detailing the BISL position:

 (2)   The definition of "enclosed" public place/workplace

  BISL supports the definition of an enclosed public place or workplace, but also supports the comments of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) on the greater flexibility offered by the Irish approach. It is important for the leisure and hospitality industry that outdoor space, which is partially covered, will be available for those who need a smoking break.

 (3)   Other public Places

  It would seem sensible and fair for order making powers to allow the legislation to apply to other premises, but the regulations should be as simple as possible and not require any lines to be drawn on the ground around building exits.

 (4)   Longer lead in for Licensed Premises

  The Health White Paper and "Delivering Choosing Health" made it clear that the Department of Health would be investing heavily in a smoking cessation campaign using public advertisements and local initiatives. BISL believes that it is vital that this campaign is evaluated and provides real evidence of success in reducing the number of people who smoke, before smoking is banned in all licensed premises.

  Although 25% of the population smoke, this rises to 46% in pubs and 60% in bingo clubs. There is a real danger that businesses, particularly in marginal and rural areas, will fail if a smoking ban is implemented too quickly. BISL believes that the legislation for all licensed premises should not be implemented until April 2010 at the earliest, to allow smoking cessation policies to work.

 (5)   Food

  BISL believes that the hospitality industry should be allowed to gain an exemption by providing separate rooms for smokers and non smokers. This should apply to all premises which have a liquor licence. We would be prepared for this exemption to be time limited to help with phasing.

  There are a range of interim measures which could be introduced including separate rooms or separate areas, no smoking at the bar, employees able to choose where they work or allowing smoking in parts of a premises where no staff are required to be present.

  BISL does not believe that the exemption offered for premises which do not sell food is either desirable, or workable. If this exemption is to be continued, all premises which do not serve food and have a liquor licence should be included, not just pubs.

 (6)   Residential Premises

  BISL is content with the list shown, but supports the views of the British Hospitality Association (BHA) on hotel bedrooms.

 (7)   Exemption for Clubs

  BISL represents a number of proprietary owned members clubs. These include snooker clubs, casinos, bingo clubs and sport and recreation clubs which are owed by corporate companies. None of these clubs would be included in the definition provided and yet these are the premises which are most likely to be affected the most in terms of viability by a ban on smoking.

  BISL notes the principle of an exemption for clubs such as the Royal British Legion, but it seems incompatible with a healthy lifestyle for sports clubs to be offered such an exemption and in fact for any club if the Government is genuinely seeking to help the community to reduce its smoking habit. If one prime purpose of this Bill is also to protect the workforce, these provisions only provide for the protection of employees in commercial premises and not in clubs. This hardly fits in with the objectives of the Bill. Arguments put forward about choice for employees as to which premises they chose to work in are likely to lead to claims for discrimination.

  In any event our overriding objection to this exemption is that it would lead to migration. This is particularly true outside London and many other major cities where private clubs are significant players in the night time economy. In such places all the evidence from overseas shows that smokers just migrate from a place where they can no longer smoke ie commercial premises to places where they can smoke ie clubs.

  In summary, BISL does not believe that any exceptions should be provided for clubs. If this exemption is to be continued it must be for all clubs where members can vote on the issue.

 (8)   Practical Implications

  The practical implications for all businesses will be the effect on customers. This effect will be more marked in premises where customers traditionally spend a long time eg pub, restaurant, casino, bingo club or betting shop.

 (9)   Signage

  The consultation suggests that "No Smoking" signs should be displayed in all premises (where applicable) and that operators may be prosecuted for not displaying such signs. BISL believes that the requirement to have "No Smoking" signs should at worst be time limited with a "sunset clause" which lasts for perhaps two or three years, but in reality a presumption against smoking in public places should remove any need for these signs apart from "smoking permitted" in exempt areas. You do not put "Don't rob this bank" on the entrance to all banks. Why should it be necessary for all premises to say "No Smoking"?

  Alternatively, BISL would support the view of the BBPA which requires signage only where smoking is permitted. BISL has a concern that if an operator was prosecuted their liquor licence could also become invalid and this would have serious consequences for individual businesses.

  On a practical note, there is a need to have a definition of "an entrance". Is this a notice on the door, or merely close to the door?

 (10)   Offences and Penalties

  BISL believes that these are the right offences and penalties.

 (11)   Defences

  BISL believes it is very necessary to give businesses an opportunity to defend their actions when, either they could not know someone was smoking, or a request to stop smoking is ignored.

  BISL does have concerns that fines could be imposed on individual members of staff. £200 may not be much to an operator, but it is a lot for a part time cashier. Particularly where no witnesses are present, it may be difficult to prove whether the individual did give a warning to a customer to stop smoking or not. It may be fairer to require the company to provide training for employees and then impose the fine on the company and not the employee.

 (12)   Enforcement

  BISL notes the role to be played by local authority enforcement officers, but would reiterate the need for clear central direction and consistency across local authorities throughout the country. We support the views of the BBPA and British Hospitality Association (BHA).

 (13)   Smoking at the Bar

  BISL believes that the voluntary work undertaken by the British Beer and Pub Association and other leisure outlets to prevent smoking at the bar should be extended. This is obviously irrelevant if smoking was banned in all hospitality venues.

 (14)   Time Table

  The consultation paper asks whether the end of the year is the most suitable time to bring in a smoking ban. BISL believes that April would be a better time as this is a month at the beginning of the summer season when days become longer and it is therefore more acceptable for customers to smoke outside.

  BISL believes that it will be difficult to achieve smoke free premises by the end of 2007. BISL believes that all premises should be smoke free by the end of 2008 and that all licensed premises should be smoke free by April 2010.

 (15)   Unintended consequences for binge-drinking

  The hospitality industry has spent many years becoming more family friendly, offering facilities more attractive to women and becoming food led. Whilst concerns exist about binge drinking and vertical drinking, it would seem a complete contradiction to offer all operators who only serve alcohol, an exemption. Whilst snacks may be the only food permitted in such premises the vision of hamburger vans outside premises would seem just the beginning of a number of visionary loopholes which are likely to be offered by licensed premises. This would make it difficult to police and possibly unworkable in practice.

  As with other exemptions offered, evidence from abroad suggests that where one premises offers smoking and another does not, customers migrate to the smoking premises and the non-smoking premises is left without customers and is likely over time to be forced to close. As already outlined, BISL does not believe that separation of smokers and a non smokers by serving food is practical or desirable.

 (16)   General Points

  BISL is in favour of modern legislation which puts fundamental principles in the Act itself and leaves all other details to regulations which can then be changed. It is however, essential that these regulations are available before the Bill enters its Committee stage. Otherwise businesses will accuse Government of passing legislation without its full effect being debated in Parliament or agreed by all parties.

  It should be noted that all leisure venues can play a powerful role in educating and taking customers with them on the road to non-smoking. This point has been made by BISL verbally in many of the workshops we attended during the consultation on "Choosing Health". It requires further discussion with the Department of Health.


  BISL believes that a total ban on smoking in public places should be a long term aim without exemptions. Additional time should be offered to all licensed premises before a complete ban is enforced. This should be not before 2010.

October 2005

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