·         Calls for smoking to be banned in pub gardens and outside eating areas in Wales.

·         Conservatives say discouraging people from going to pubs and restaurants during the summer months by banning smoking is not what the industry needs.

ACTION ON SMOKING and Health Wales (ASH Wales) – a campaign group working for a smoke-free Wales – is calling on the Welsh Government to ‘protect children’s health’.

It wants legislation that came into force in March banning smoking in the grounds of schools, hospitals and in playgrounds to be extended to the outdoor seating areas of pubs, bars and restaurants.

The proposal has been backed by Children’s Commissioner for Wales Sally Holland.

She said extending the regulations to areas where families gather would further denormalise smoking in the eyes of children.

This would make them less likely to take up the habit themselves and protect them from the harms of second-hand smoke, she added.

Five local authorities in England have banned smoking in the pavement seating areas of pubs, cafes and restaurants and Oxfordshire is to become the first county in England to completely ban smoking outside bars and restaurants.

There is strong public support for a similar ban in Wales with 63% of adults in Wales in favour of the proposal, according to a YouGov survey for ASH Wales.

Suzanne Cass, CEO of ASH Wales, said: “Welsh Government has shown a really strong commitment to tackling smoking prevalence in Wales by becoming the first UK nation to ban smoking in school and hospital grounds and in children’s playgrounds.

“We believe it should now listen to the people of Wales and extend that ban to outdoor seating areas such as beer gardens where young people and families with children gather.

“It is really important to do all we can to ensure children are not exposed to the sight of adults smoking in everyday settings.”

The Children’s Commissioner for Wales Sally Holland said extending the ban to outdoor seating areas of pubs, restaurants and cafes would both protect children’s health and take Wales a step further to becoming a smoke-free nation.

Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing Lynne Neagle said the Welsh Government’s long-term goal is to make more public spaces in Wales smoke-free.

She said: “The Welsh Government is taking action to reduce the health impacts of smoking and we intend to build upon the measures we introduced on 1 March 2021 which made hospital grounds, school grounds, public playgrounds and outdoor areas of childcare settings smoke-free.

“We are committed to our longer-term goal of making more of Wales’ public spaces smoke-free, in helping people to make positive changes to their health and wellbeing and to supporting our aim of a smoke-free Wales.”

Meanwhile, a smokers’ group has called the proposal “monumentally stupid”.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, said: “If publicans want to ban smoking in beer gardens that’s their choice and there’s nothing to stop them doing it now if they think it will be good for business.

“But pubs aren’t health clubs and if publicans want to accommodate adults who wish to smoke they must be allowed to do so without further intervention.

“Threatening pubs with further regulations at the very moment the hospitality industry is trying to recover from the devastating impact of the pandemic is monumentally stupid.”

Commenting on the campaign to ban smoking in outdoor seating areas Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, James Evans MS, told The Herald: “The hospitality industry has been hit hard over the last 15 months and discouraging people from going to pubs and restaurants during the summer months by banning smoking is not what the industry needs.

“Where possible, outdoor areas should be split between smokers and non-smokers to ensure that everyone is able to enjoy themselves.

“But the Welsh Government should be focused on supporting people to quit smoking or moving on to reduce risk products rather than continuing to punish and demonise them.