Published: 03/06/2004, Volume II4, No. 5908 Page 6

London could face a ban on smoking in public places, according to two of the main mayoral candidates.

At a mayoral health debate organised by the King's Fund Last week, Labour candidate and current mayor Ken Livingstone and Conservative candidate Steve Norris said they would push for a ban on public smoking if elected.

The mayor of London does not currently have the power to impose such a ban but both candidates have said they would lobby government for a change in the law to enable this.

The government has not made any decision on such a ban and some public health specialists believe that local authorities will ultimately be given the power to decide whether to ban smoking in public places in their own localities.

Legislation for London would take one of two routes. The Greater London Assembly could be given the power to introduce a London-wide ban or each London borough could choose to enforce its own.

Local authorities in Liverpool and Brighton are considering bringing in restrictions on smoking in public places.

Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Simon Hughes said he would not be lobbying for the power to enforce a ban.

Mr Hughes said such a ban would be construed as 'nanny state' intervention, despite his party voting to introduce a ban at its conference last year.