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Dean of Southwark criticises "daft" rule on no smoking signs

You're more likely to see someone scoffing a Borough Market hamburger in Southwark Cathedral than smoking says the Dean of Southwark, but new legislation will require 'no smoking' signs outside the historic building.

Southwark Cathedral

"If there's one word it's daft," the Very Revd Colin Slee – who is also spokesman for the Association of English Cathedrals – told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

When the nationwide ban on smoking in enclosed public places comes into effect on 1 July churches and cathedrals – along with other venues – will be required to display 'no smoking' signs at their entrances.

But the Dean says that very few people even consider lighting a cigarette in a place of worship anyway, so the signs are unnecessary.

"We get all sorts of things [at Southwark Cathedral]. We get men wearing hats – that's the most common thing – and people wandering in with their Borough Market organic hamburgers, but I haven't seen anyone smoking."

"I don't know about parish priests, but certainly all Deans have received a very formal letter and been instructed that it's mandatory to put up these signs."

Mr Slee called for places of worship to gain the same exemption already granted to other historic buildings such as country houses owned by the National Trust: "There needs to be provision not just for churches but for synagogues, temples and mosques," he said.

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