Government lays out smokefree law choices

In collaboration with the Press Association

The Department of Health has laid out the three options that will face MPs when they come to vote on landmark smokefree legislation later this month.

Ministers have promised that they will be given a free vote on the legislation.

Alongside totally smokefree laws, the Department has also presented MPs with the option of allowing smoking to continue in private clubs, or to stick with the government's original plan of allowing smoking in venues which don't serve food.

The Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has indicated that she will vote for completely smokefree legislation, against her department's own policies.

"The Health Bill is a huge step forward for public health and will save thousands of lives by preventing smoking related diseases," minister Caroline Flint told the BBC.

"It is important that MPs have a clear choice to convey their views around this controversial issue."

Surveys have shown that a majority of people in the UK would back laws on totally smokefree work places. "All employees, including those who work in private member's clubs, deserve the right to work in a safe environment. Anything other than a comprehensive law would leave thousands of workers unprotected," said Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK. "Any partial law is widely acknowledged to be unworkable. As well as leaving some workers at risk, there is clear evidence it would widen health inequalities. "Bar workers will continue to die if we get anything other than a comprehensive smokefree law that includes private member's clubs. We urge MPs to vote to save lives and back a comprehensive smokefree law, he added.