The landlord of a pub in an English seaside resort on Friday became the first person to be called to court for flouting a new law outlawing smoking in enclosed public spaces.
Local council inspectors in Blackpool, north-west England, served seven separate court summonses on Hamish Howitt at his Happy Scots Bar on Thursday evening for breaking the ban, which came into effect in England July 1.
AdvertisementIf convicted, he faces a 17,500-pound (26,000-euro, 36,000-dollar) fine.
Owners and landlords of pubs, cafes and nightclubs are legally required to enforce the ban in their establishments, and face a fine of up to 2,500 pounds if they fail to do so.
But Howitt has said he would rather go to jail than pay any penalty for allowing patrons to smoke in his pub, saying: "I don't incite smoking in my pub as our karaoke bar next-door is completely non-smoking."
"I'm not pro-smoking just pro-freedom.
"I'm not prepared to shove my customers outside in the wind and the rain to allow them their right to smoke.
Howitt is so incensed by the ban that he has set up his own political party, Fight Against Government Suppression or FAGS (a British slang word for cigarettes).
"Having a pint and a cigarette in a pub is one of the last great enjoyments left for the working classes," he said.
He has pledged to take the matter to the European Court of Human Rights.
Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland all have similar restrictions but laws came into effect there earlier.
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