Smoking could soon be banned in every cafe and restaurant and most pubs across the country under plans unveiled by the Government.
The White Paper on Public Health, released this month, aims to make most enclosed public areas, including factories and offices, smoke-free. Only private clubs where members have voted to allow smoking and pubs that do not serve prepared food would be exempt.
The plans have attracted a mixed response from the folk of Accrington, although many said they would prefer designated smoking areas to a total ban.
Francis Finnerty, 42, a shoe-repairer at Timpson in the Arndale Centre, said: "I would support a partial ban but more designated areas should be allowed. Air conditioning should be people's right."
Terry Bentley, 65, who is retired, said: "I would definitely support a ban. I don't see why I should breathe other people's smoke, but I don't disagree with designated areas for smokers."
Esther Pratt, 27, manager of H Samuels, said: "There should definitely be a ban in restaurants. Other than that I don't mind too much, although I would prefer a separate area for smokers."
Michelle Brown, 36, manager of Superdrug, said: "At the end of the day it's individual choice, but there should definitely be an area where smokers can be separate."
Trisha Mounsey, 46, from B & E's market stall, said: "I completely support a ban, there is nothing worse than eating where there is cigarette smoke. Designated areas don't work, the smoke still comes over."
Malcom Aspin, 39, manager of Slack's Farm butchers' stall, said: "Smoke always drifts across, even when it's a separate area, I would definitely support a total ban."
Leon Pilkington, licensee of Accrington Pride, currently Accrington's only non-smoking pub, said: "Since taking over three years ago, we have never allowed smoking in the bar area, the eating area or in any of the upstairs rooms. We are giving people the choice. When the odd person used to light up, it was the other customers who told them we were a non-smoking pub, but even that doesn't happen any more."
John Ritchie, landlord of the Hare and Hounds, Whalley Road, Clayton le Moors, feared it would cause a decline in trade. He said: "We would lose customers; we have lots of regulars who smoke at the bar. I do think there should be a separate area for the non-smokers but I'm not too sure about a complete ban."
Dave Archer, landlord of the Grey Horse Hotel, Whalley Road, Accrington, said: "It would definitely be detrimental to the business to ban smoking, I would agree with a no-smoking ban at the bar to keep both parties happy, but to ban it completely would cause the business to suffer."
The proposals for a smoking ban go further than had been expected, meaning that up to 90 per cent of bars could be smoke-free by 2008.
The restrictions are expected to be phased in, with a ban on smoking in NHS and Government buildings by 2006, in enclosed public places by 2007, and with the restrictions on smoking in licensed premises introduced by the end of 2008.
Health Secretary John Reid said he agreed with the idea of free choice within society, but did not think it was fair to damage other people's health.