Smoking could be banned in pub and restaurant al fresco areas in St Helier
SMOKERS could be banned from lighting up in outdoor-seating areas at pubs, restaurants and cafés in St Helier from next year, if businesses and residents agree.
The St Helier Roads Committee has launched a consultation seeking Islanders’ views about whether they believe al fresco areas operated under a permit from the parish should be made smoke-free.
Simon Crowcroft, the Constable of St Helier, who chairs the Roads Committee, said the move to introduce such a ban was not ‘particularly radical’ as it had already been rolled out in other jurisdictions, such as Canada and Australia.
However, last year the UK government blocked similar plans after ministers warned it would impinge on people’s freedom and would also lead to pub closures.
Forest, a UK pro-smoking group, has criticised St Helier’s proposals saying it could be a ‘big risk to the hospitality industry’ and claiming that there is ‘no public health risk’ to second-hand smoke outdoors.
The decision to launch the consultation was made during a Roads Committee meeting held this week.
Mr Crowcroft said: ‘We were reviewing the al fresco conditions for the year ahead – it is an annual arrangement. It was suggested that we consider making our al fresco areas smoke free.
‘A decision has not been taken. We decided the first thing we should do is consult to find out what people and businesses think.’
Mr Crowcroft said that it was expected that the Roads Committee would consider whether to implement the ban at its next meeting, which is scheduled for mid December.
‘Clearly it is probably too late to do anything from January,’ he said. ‘If it is something that is desirable we would look to bring it about sometime next year.
‘It would not be a particularly radical step. Of course, the other thing is that it completely aligns with the States of Jersey’s policy to prevent smoking.’
Mr Crowcroft added that surveys carried out in recent years had revealed that the ‘majority of people’ would like smoke-free al fresco areas introduced.
According to the 2013 Jersey Annual Social Survey, 54 per cent of all respondents said they would like smoking to be stopped outside pubs and restaurants.
Likewise, 57 per cent of respondents to a public consultation in February 2014 also believed there should be a smoking ban in al fresco areas.
Mr Crowcroft said that he was supportive of rolling out a ban in al fresco places which the parish administers.
‘Personally, I think currently the existing provision is unfair because the majority of people who don’t smoke who want to eat al fresco in the summer have to eat inside the restaurant otherwise they could find themselves downwind of some smokers who decide to light up after their meal,’ he said.
He urged Islanders to share their views on the proposals by contacting Silvio Alves, director technical and environmental services on 811849 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: ‘We would be strongly against this on the grounds that we already have a smoking ban that prohibits people from smoking indoors. Smokers have already been kicked out of pubs, bars and restaurants, the only other place they have to go these days is to smoke outside. There is no risk from people smoking in the open air.’
He added that following the introduction of the smoking ban in the UK, 11,000 pubs closed.
‘No-one is saying that is exclusively due to the smoking ban but it did have an affect on stopping people going to pubs and bars,’ he said. ‘If you now say you can’t smoke al fresco the risk is that even more people will be driven away. I think there is a big risk to the hospitality industry and the hospitality industry has to have a big say in this.’