Pubs in the poorer areas of England are likely to escape a smoking ban, according to researchers from Telford and Wrekin Primary Care Trust. Proposals in the Public Health White Paper can for a smoking ban in enclosed public places by 2008, with the exception of pubs not preparing and serving food and private members' clubs. The researchers, writing on bmj.com, said the situation would make already large health inequalities worse and called on the government to impose a total ban. The study looked at the catering status of pubs and clubs in the borough and their location in deprived or affluent areas. There were 174 pubs in the borough, of which 99 (57%) served food, meaning that that 75 (43%) would be exempt from the smoking ban. When the researchers included licensed members' clubs, the number of exempt establishments would be 127 (56%). Using these figures, they estimated that two-thirds of English pubs in deprived areas would be exempt from the smoking ban - compared to only a quarter exempt in affluent areas. The researchers said: "Prohibiting smoking only in pubs that serve catered food and allowing exemptions for other licensed drinking establishments may worsen health inequalities. "Choosing Health (the white paper) estimates that only 10-30% of pubs could be smoking, but our data indicate that the proportion of exempt pubs is higher (43%)."