Ian Payne, the chief executive of Laurel Pub Company, has attacked Tim Martin over his call for the government to ban smoking in pubs. The JD Wetherspoon chairman said that it would be ‘suicide’ for an individual operator to ban smoking without the support of legislation. Payne said: "Tim Martin has the prime opportunity to offer smoke free premises given that he has a similar number of bars as us. "To stand on the sidelines and call for a ban is an easy option, and an excuse not to do anything. If he is so strongly in support of a ban he could start converting his bars now. "We firmly believe in customer choice and believe that voluntary action by the industry is more favourable than an all encompassing government endorsed ban."