Leading personal injury law firm Thompsons has described the government’s proposed legislation to ban smoking in pubs and restaurants which sell food as "shambolic".

Thompsons, which acts for individuals made ill by exposure to smoke at work, says the Bill complicates the law, and will do nothing to protect employers from being sued by their employees.

John Hall, disease specialist at Thompsons’ Southampton office said: "The Government has missed an opportunity to pass comprehensive legislation protecting a significant proportion of the workforce in the English hospitality trade. The proposed legislation is shambolic and further complicates an already complicated area of health and safety law.”

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, employers have a duty to protect their staff from avoidable risks to their health and safety.

A partial ban will not prevent an employee who develops a passive smoking-related illness in a bar that is exempt from the ban, from taking a personal injury claim.

“The issue is one of negligence. It makes no difference whether there is a ban in place in an establishment or not – if the employer negligently exposes an employee to second-hand smoke, and there are reasonable grounds to state that it was that exposure which caused the employee to become ill, then the employer is liable for prosecution.”

Thompsons’ written evidence to the House of Commons Health Committee warned against allowing another “asbestos horror” to develop, where government dithering cost thousands of avoidable deaths.

The BBC also covered this story.  To read more visit 'Flood of smoke lawsuits 'to come''.