By Angela Frewin
The National Asthma Campaign is demanding a ban on smoking in all public places - including bars, restaurants, shopping centres and even parks - to protect the UK's 3.4 million asthma suffers.
It says cigarette smoke triggers problems in 80% of sufferers and that passive smoking puts almost 50 child victims in hospital a day.
A spokesperson said: "People with asthma should not have to restrict their working, recreational and social lives because of other people's cigarette smoke."
But Martin Couchman, deputy chief executive of the British Hospitality Association, argued that as 1.5 million of asthmatics are children, they are unlikely to be in bars and restaurants.
He believed that a distinction was needed between places people cannot avoid by choice, such as trains and post offices, and those they can.
Michael da Costa, chairman of the Restaurateurs Association of Great Britain, believes both the public and his members are fed up with being told how to run their lives and businesses on issues such as smoking and beef on the bone.
He added that an NOP survey to be released this week by the RAGB found only 8% favoured a total smoking ban in restaurants, pubs and clubs while 70% believed restaurants should choose themselves how to cater for smoking and non-smoking customers. This contradicts an ICM/Guardian poll that claimed 63% wanted a ban in restaurants and bars.