Ted Tuppen, chief executive of Enterprise Inns, yesterday described the government’s proposals on smoking in public places as a “cynical pre-election fudge”. Speaking at the Key Issues for Licensed Retail conference, organised by Martin Info, Tuppen said that while the proposed legislation would afford waiters and other staff at food-led outlets protection from smoke, the new laws would sanction the “passive murder of barmen”. Tuppen, who is also chairman of the British Beer and Pub Association, said many industry leaders accepted that smoking would probably not be allowed in public places in five years time – but the decision to separate food from smoke did not make sense. His comments were endorsed by Karen Jones, chief executive of Spirit Group, who said she favoured a slow transition away from smoking, as first suggested by the “big five” companies, rather than current proposals. Jones played a leading role in co-ordinating the "big five" action plan, which proposed a reduction in smoking areas in pubs to 20% of trading space over five years. But this was superseded by the government’s White Paper on public health, which will see smoking banned in all enclosed public places including pubs. However pubs that do not serve food, and private member’s clubs, will be exempt.