I'm not a smoker, never have been. I am a liberal (little L) however and the recent smoking legislation has given me cause for concern.

Being able to sit in a public without breathing someone else's smoke, undoubtedly a good thing. Having our choices dictated to us by the government, really not a good thing. What is needed (IMO, at least) is finding a middle ground between these positions.

Personally, I don't think the government have been very honest with their intent when it comes to this legislation. They were selling it on the grounds of preventing passive smoking, and yet were talking about exceptions based on food being served? Seems like a mixed message at best.

So, why not a total ban? Comes down to freedom of choice. As an individual you (should) have the right to do as you wish so long as your actions do not impede the freedom of others to do as they wish. I have the right to smoke, I don't have the right to force my smoke on others.

Whilst in modern open-space vertical drinking venues I appreciate smoking sections do nothing to aid a smoke free evening because the non-smoking section is still sharing air with the smokers we could go the way of the traditional pub. Why not provide a smoking room separate and shut off from the main pub and without a service area? That way staff only have minimal exposure when collecting empties and smokers have the freedom of choice which they as individuals should be provided. This is an option touted by many (including CAMRA) and yet completely ignored by the government.

Perhaps they just thought it too hard to enforce, I'm more inclined to believe that they think they know best and that we, the public, are incapable of making our own decisions.

Still, a bit late now, eh? :)
I'm with you and Camra, as I let people know at many opportunities...
However, remember that it is not a ban on smoking in pubs - it's a ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces. If they were to start having exceptions written in for pubs and enclosed rooms without a servery then you open things up to a lot of legal wrangling. In the end, as you say, this is easier to enforce as well as easier to describe in legal language that people won't be able to abuse.

Private clubs, however...that's opening up a whole different realm of legal fun :)
Indeed, the definition of public place will be thing which really shapes this legislation.

I don't see how provision of seperated smoking and non-smoking areas can't be generalised. Old-school offices provide smoking rooms so that their staffers don't have to stand on the street for a fag, a pub would basically be doing the same for their punters.

What would need to be carefully done is the legislation which set up how well separated the smoking area is from the main part of the premises. The problem we have now is that non-smoking areas get polluted and that some interaction with smoking areas can be required to get to the bar, for example. Provisions would have to be put in place to ensure that the non-smoking areas are just that.
they think they know best

-- somehow I suspect you could be right...
I guess it's a matter of what personal liberties we are willing to give up.

We are, and quite right to do so, happy to ban unsocial practices. No one complains that the paedophiles personal liberty to watch kiddie porn has been removed, or the fact that my right to carry a firearm in public has been removed, for example. Why? Because society today has decided that these things are bad for society as a whole.

50 years ago the majority of people smoked, thus it was generally acceptable. Times have changed. I think it will always come down to what the majority of people in society are happy with.
To suggest child pornography is not infringing the rights of others is a little off the mark isn't it? After all, abuse has taken place to produce it in the first place. To ban hentai might be seen as a step too far down the road of illiberal legislation, mind you but then that argument can get complex with regard to escalating behaviour versus safe outlets for paedophiles.

Weapons are always a point of contention, that is certainly true. Whilst the line "Gun Control is a Steady Hand" is often used by the NRA and their ilk in the US, it does lead on to the point that putting dangerous weapons into the untrained and unmonitored hands of the general public is dangerous to society at large. Banning them completely is a much easier policy to implement than mandatory training and a stricter licencing regiem.

In this case though the actions of the individual are affecting others. With smoking a person's actions (assuming they're not smoking around others) are affecting only themselves.

I do support a ban of smoking in public places, I just don't think banning provision of smoking rooms is necesary to protect the non-smoking public. At that point you are dictating to an individual how they should behave regardless of whether that behaviour impacts another, and that I will not support.
Having been drinking in Ireland after their ban came in, I would argue that the pubs generaly have become much nicer places to drink.

The problem with parital bans and smoke free areas, is that it only takes one smoker in a group, to force the whole group into the smoking area. A go out side situation, means that a given smoker just steps outside, then returns.
Which is a personal choice people can make. I'f I'm out with some non-smokers, especially when dining, I generally step outside to smoke rather than insist we sit in a smoking area. There's no need for legislation to force me to do that. I'm an adult and I can police myself in this matter. You are an adult and can exercise your choice not to sit with smokers.
Well, they did try - quite hard - to find a compromise. It only went to a free vote and got steamrollered through when the attempt had clearly failed.

The thing about food was because some people felt that not all pubs should become nonsmoking, and it seemed a tolerably good way to distinguish (the really smoky pubs don't tend to serve food anyway).
It seems like a cop-out to me. The majority of pubs which do food aren't pubs I'd like to go to, but I'd like to see mandatory and well implemented smoke free areas in the ones I do go to. It seems the worst of both options, really...
I like to think of myself as liberal in most things, but I think it's great this whole banning mgubbins is coming in. Why should pubs and stuff have to change their internal architecture so that smokers can wall themselves off in the name of a middle ground?
Well, they ripped out all the walls in the name of modernisation and customer safty. Personally I think they should have to restore them to their orignal state. :)
I thought they had a pretty democratic thing going on with letting venues choose, but I suppose the pressure of having to go the way of all others has finally won out. Too many countries have had a complete ban on smoking in public places for years already - even my little beloved third world South Africa. Tis the way the world is going and the old Government must keep up with the times otherwise it reflects badly on them.

But yes, I too am experiencing Orwellian twitchings. One wanders what will go next...
if they are going to interfere they may as well do it properly. Some half hearted wishwashy compromise would just make it hard to enforce. persoanlly i think the CAMRA option would have possibly been okay but since it wasnt a choice the best choice was total ban.
Also it is one of the goverments stated aims to reduce the levels of smoking in general. this will help.

it also finally almost makes one Yes Prime Minister episode no longer true.
the public, are incapable of making our own decisions

I actually watched quite a lot of the debate yesterday.

I came to the conclusion that the MP's decision is the right one. Personally, I don't think that the government should be protecting me from smoke in a pub; I choose to go into the pub or not as the case may be and the pub chooses to allow or ban smoking, ergo between us we can come to a compromise, possibly involving me frequenting a different establishment.

However, it's not really about that though is it? It's about the workers, and how their health is being effected. The personal choice aspect doesn't really apply there; The idea that someone could choose to get another job isn't actually that plausable for quite a lot of the workforce involved. It's unrealistic in today's society to make workers needlessly work in such hazardous conditions.

And I don't buy the idea of a smoking room. Who collects the empties? Who breaks up the fight? Who runs the place? Staff will have to go into the 'smokers room' in the pub lest it become some kind of lawless zone only that the most disagreable of customers will frequent, safe in the knowledge that the landlord can't police their actions in his own house.

Of course, I suspect that other people will disagree with me. But that's fair enough.

Are the smoking customers going to volunteer to clean the smoking areas, or is some poor cleaner expected to go and deal with a room that stinks to high heaven?

I'm delighted at the ban. Some days, I can't walk past a smoker in the street without feeling nauseous, and I can usually detect someone who is actively smoking from a ten-foot distance even outdoors. Sitting next to someone on the Tube who has recently been smoking can make my eyes sting for the next twenty minutes, sometimes to the point where I can no longer open them, which makes me somewhat less than functional. Anything that reduces the number of times I need to deal with that kind of crap is all right by me.
Are the smoking customers going to volunteer to clean the smoking areas, or is some poor cleaner expected to go and deal with a room that stinks to high heaven?

That seems like an odd argument when the drinkers don't clean up after themselves. It's not like there's a health risk in cleaning up once the smoke clears (your alergies aside, since I would imagine that only a minority of the population are affected by similar).

Similarly, whilst I can appreciate that the reactions you have to residual tobacco smoke are unpleasent they do not affect the vast majority in the same way so can't really be considered strong reasoning for a blanket ban - certainly I can appreciate why you're happy about it.

As I've said, I'm looking forward to smoke free pubs. I have no problem with a ban, I take issue with the way it is being done.
I'd like to think that this is an example of parliament making laws that reflect the will of the majority of the public, although I haven't seen the results of any research on the subject.

On the subject of enclosed smoking areas, if you're motivated by a desire to protect the health of bar workers et al, is it appropriate to deliberately legislate for the provision of facilities that will endanger their health, even slightly? According to the Today programme this morning, some other jurisdictions have already banned smoking outside within ten metres of a doorway, so that people don't have to walk through a cloud of smoke as they go in and out. Possibly we should have allowed for smoking rooms, but required bar workers to wear breathing apparatus while clearing up... ;-)

Secondly, doesn't that provide a loophole whereby the entire pub other than the bar is an "enclosed smoking area"? I guess you could start requiring a given percentage of non-smoking accommodation though, but you'd still end up with people having to go into the smoking section if they wanted a seat. (And vice-versa, but that's less problematic.)
I actually thought that would be quite a cool idea. The bar is behind an airtight post-office-style glass sheet. Communication is via intercom and the beer and payment get passed through small airlocks.

And the glass collectors can be in full hazmed gear. :)