SMOKERS may be refused home visits by council workers if they smoke in certain rooms of their own homes in Wirral.

The borough is considering allowing its staff, like social services and education welfare workers, to refuse to visit people’s homes if anyone has smoked there 30 minutes before.

The authority says this could lead to meetings being re-arranged in non-smoking council offices if householders refuse to comply.

The policy would be much stricter than a similar one announced in Liverpool earlier this year, under which residents were requested not to smoke on a voluntary basis.

Last night, pro-smoking lobby group Forest branded Wirral’s plans: “heavy-handed petty bureaucracy”.

But Wirral council says it wants to protect the health of its staff, following the nationwide ban on smoking in workplaces which became law on July 1.

If approved on September 20, a letter will be sent to residents before all home visits, saying: “In an effort to minimise the exposure of our staff to second- hand tobacco smoke, the council is asking you to keep one room tobacco smoke free prior to a visit.”

Director of FOREST, Simon Clark, said: “It’s all very well saying the meeting could be re-arranged in a council office, but the elderly, ill and infirm will be hit hardest by this.”

He said most smokers accept some people do not like smoke and will stub out their cigarette if asked to do so.

Wirral Council’s Conservative leader, Jeff Green, was last night cautious about whether to endorse the plan.

“Clearly we have to look after people’s health and welfare and take into account the safety of council staff,” he said.

“But I think it’s going too far now and people are starting to wonder what sort of country we’re living in.”