A pub operator said it is "curious" that smoking was banned outside his premises, and a licensing lawyer called the move “problematic”.

A Camden Council licensing committee banned smoking outside both The Duke of St Albans, in Highgate Road near Hampstead Heath, and the Lord Southampton, in Haverstock, on January 18.

Despite the owners’ wishes, committee member Cllr Richard Olszewski ruled that there should “zero smoking” to protect those living above and near both pubs – even though the Duke of St Albans has its own terrace.

The council, which is preparing in a new licensing policy, says there is no “borough-wide ban” on smoking outside pubs.

Andreas Akerlund is co-owner of Grace Land, which will be running the Duke of St Albans for owner Fruition Properties and witnessed the decision.

Although the ban was made for the benefit of tenants living above the pub, he said he was "curious" about the move, which he says means smokers will have nowhere to go but away from the pubs.

"I really don't know where that's come from," he said. "The councillor said he didn't want smoking outside either pub.

"The community doesn't want us to have people on the street smoking and now we have to have people smoking on the street.

"We can control either so it's not a problem I think, it's more curious why he (Cllr Olszewski) would do that to two pubs.

"Is he doing that because they trying to get rid of smoking all together on licences in all licencing areas? I don't know."

Ham & High: Licensing committee members Cllr Richard Olszewski and Cllr Sylvia McNamara with Piers Warne defending smokers outside pubsLicensing committee members Cllr Richard Olszewski and Cllr Sylvia McNamara with Piers Warne defending smokers outside pubs (Image: Nathalie Raffray)

Piers Warne, licensing lawyer for Lord Southampton freeholders Milegate, told Cllr Olszewski during the meeting that people had a right to smoke, and that telling them they can't come back in "will only cause issues".

Mr Warne told the Ham&High: "The imposition of a smoking ban as part of a premises licence is problematic because smoking is not a licensable activity.

"By effectively prohibiting it outside the premises it can have the effect of moving smokers closer to the residents who the committee members are trying to protect."

A Camden Council spokesperson explained that conditions on licences could protect residents by limiting the number of smokers permitted outside, designating a specific area for smokers, or preventing smoking in some areas.

Cllr Olszewski did not comment.