Smoking outside restaurants and pubs banned in Seaham as popularity of 'al fresco' dining booms
Smoking outside restaurants or bars is banned across County Durham under post-covid licensing rules, the council has confirmed.
Durham County Council is among five northern local authorities to ban smoking in pavement dining areas outside of pubs, bars and restaurants.
The council introduced smoke-free areas as a condition for pavement licensing which was implemented last year as part of its hospitality reopening strategy.
Under the licensing conditions, business can provide a separate area for people who wish to smoke but it must not be in the vicinity of people eating or drinking.
With the easing of lockdowns, there has been a widespread move to ‘al fresco’ drinking and dining as the hospitality industry was forced to move outdoors.
However, the shift to smoke-free areas outdoors was opposed by pro-smoking groups.
Sunderland City Council is not among the local authorities which have banned smoking in pavement drinking and dining areas.
Alan Patrickson, Durham County Council’s corporate director for neighbourhoods and climate change, said: “The introduction of smoke-free areas as a condition for pavement licensing was implemented last year as part of our hospitality reopening strategy and our commitment to providing attractive outside areas for visitors.
“Having smoke-free outdoor dining areas enhances the appeal for visitors to our pubs, cafes, bars and restaurants. Not only does this provide an attractive, healthier environment for customers such as families and non-smokers, it also supports those who have taken the steps to quit and want to maintain a smoke-free lifestyle.
“Businesses can provide a dedicated smoking area for those who wish to smoke, but this must follow the conditions of the license and must not be in the vicinity of people eating and drinking.”
Previously in July 2020, Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking group Forest, said: “The smoking ban had a huge impact on the pub sector and was a significant factor in thousands of pubs closing after it was introduced in 2007.
"Although many smokers reluctantly adapted to the ban, banning smoking outside could be the final straw.
"The hospitality industry needs to issue a firm response and reject additional government interference on an issue that should be a matter for individual proprietors."