A CONTROVERSIAL smoking shelter, erected at public expense for employees of the National Assembly, could be declared illegal when anti-smoking regulations are introduced in Wales next April.
The shelter, built at a cost of nearly £7,400 at the back of the Assembly building in Cardiff Bay, has already attracted criticism from the British Medical Association. Now it seems the shelter may be in breach of the Assembly's own proposed ban on smoking in public places.
Under draft regulations, which are out to public consultation until October 13, smoking would be banned in "enclosed" or "substantially enclosed" premises.
Dr Richard Lewis, Welsh secretary of the BMA, said, "It is bad enough that the Assembly has agreed to put up this shelter in the first place but it will be even worse if it turns out that it doesn't even conform with the Assembly's own regulations under the law.
"Our view is that putting up the shelter has sent a very bad message to employers and employees across Wales. The Assembly should be setting a good example in encouraging its employees to give up smoking. The shelter just encourages them to keep damaging their own and other people's health."
Dr John Marek, chairman of the Assembly's House Committee, said, "It would be speculation to comment on the new regulations, as the consultation period has not yet ended. The shelter complies with the law as it stands and is capable of adaptation."
Earlier this month, Dr Marek defended the shelter, saying it would not be in the public interest to have Assembly employees smoking outside in the cold.
An Assembly spokeswoman said, "As the regulations are currently out to consultation, it's too early to say what will be classed an enclosed public place."