Fined for smoking in a pub

A CHEDDAR businessman is one of the first in the country to be fined for smoking indoors since the ban came in last month. Chris Elliot, of Starstruck Karaoke

A CHEDDAR businessman is one of the first in the country to be fined for smoking indoors since the ban came in last month.Chris Elliot, of Starstruck Karaoke, which has a weekly show at the Bath Arms in Cheddar, had to cough up £50 after he was caught smoking in a Somerset pub.The 30-year-old, who claims he would rather go to jail than give up smoking in his company vehicle, is the first to be fined by Mendip District Council.Chris lit up in a pub's skittle alley on Saturday afternoon when enforcement officers pounced on him.He had just finished organising a protest march through Glastonbury to oppose the ban.He said: "The fine doesn't bother me. It's the first time I've broken the law in a pub but I'm going to carry on smoking in the van and I won't put up no-smoking signs. I'm willing to go to jail for it."I've never protested before in my life and I've never been a law-breaker until now. I can smoke in my van on my time off, but when I'm working I can't. It's ridiculous." More than 200 people, including a couple from a pipe-smoking club in America, joined Chris and his business partner Paul Toole on a protest march through the town.Chris, from Wells, said: "What we would like is an amendment to the law that would give people the choice to decide whether their pub is a smoking or non-smoking venue."Landlords have to enforce the ban, which is more work for them and many small pubs are really suffering as smoking customers are keeping away." According to recent figures from the Department of Health, only one other person has been issued with a fine for smoking in a public place.Mendip District Council has already written to Chris warning him not to smoke in his work van.A spokesman for the council said Chris had been warned about adhering to the ban earlier in the day, but was seen smoking in his work van again and failing to display smoke-free stickers.Cllr Tom Killen, the council's portfolio holder for environmental health, said: "We must be seen as a council which will listen to the public and where necessary educate people about the new rules. "But when it gets to a stage where we have advised an individual and previously warned them, we must be seen to take action when they ignore that advice and flout the national law.

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