The chief executive of the British Hospitality Association has called for an UK wide approach to a smoking ban, calling into question the effectiveness of local authority bans. Bob Cotton, BHA chief executive, said that while a voluntary approach is 'sensible', it "isn't tough enough to effect change". Cotton told the Key Issues for Licensed Retail conference that where the UK differs from bans imposed in Ireland is that Ireland had been discussing a ban since 1996, and had key trade unions on board to present the legislation as a health and safety issue. Cotton said the ban: "must be underpinned by moral issues. Localised bans are the worst solution of all." He called into question the state of affairs which local bans could produce, whereby pubs on different sides of the street have different policies. This could then leave hospitality workers in the position of being unfairly exposed to passive smoking, arguably with grounds to take employers to court, he said. However, Ian Willmore, public affairs manager of Action on Smoking, said that local bans like those proposed in Liverpool are "ways of putting pressure on the government for action." With legislation now expected across the UK in due course, Cotton indicated that Britain could be left in an untenable position: "It is unthinkable that Scotland, Wales, and Ireland will have legislation in place by 2006 and we don't." He added: "Once the election is out of the way a smoking ban will come, but it will take two years."