OWNERS and landlords of working men’s clubs have started a campaign calling for change to the Government’s smoking ban.

Rules on smoking in small bars have already been relaxed in some European countries, including Denmark, where smoking is allowed in designated rooms and bars with a serving area of 40 square metres or less.

Last year, an early-day motion was put before Parliament, along with a petition signed by Julian Sturdy, MP for York Outer, and 35 other MPs.

It called for a thorough review of the smoking ban and the impact it had had on pubs and private members’ clubs, and asked the Government to consider an amendment which would allow segregated smoking rooms or areas in pubs.

Greg Knight, MP for East Yorkshire, said the fight would not be easy.

Commenting on the campaign in the latest edition of the Club & Institute Journal, he said: “It is certainly an uphill battle to get Parliament to change a law once it has been introduced, particularly when any change is opposed by powerful interest groups, such as the British Medical Association and others.

“However, Denmark has shown that it can be done. Recently, they have decided to revise their smoking ban because it was closing down small bars.

“Now the Danes have decided to introduce more flexibility to allow the small bar owner to decide what his or her own rules should be.

“Provided non-smokers remain catered for, we should be reviewing our smoking ban here too.”

A member of staff at Holgate Working Men’s Club in York said they had noticed a significant downturn since the ban, and had wanted a smoking room within their ‘snug’ all along.

She said: “A lot of our members are senior citizens, and having to go outside in the cold instead of having a cigarette with their pint inside puts a lot of them off coming out. We would be in full support of a smoking ban review.”

A spokesman from Selby Trades Hall & Working Men’s Club said the drop in custom was only due in part to the smoking ban, which began in July 2007.

“In my opinion, everyone’s struggling. With a pub you get passing trade, but as a club you have memberships, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“It has certainly affected us, but it’s not the only issue.

“Breweries could stop selling their beer to the supermarkets and that would help more than looking at the smoking ban.”