A LANDLADY has been ordered to pay almost £500 after she and several drinkers at her pub were caught smoking.

Sara Anne Moorcroft, who is in charge of the Cross Guns in Deane Road, Deane, had a cigarette in her hand when police and licensing officers raided the pub.

Several customers were also smoking in the lounge area when the raid happened just after 2am on February 18.

Now Moorcroft, aged 45, has been fined and ordered to pay legal costs, leaving her with a bill for £495.

Her conviction comes almost five years to the day after smoking was banned in all workplaces across the country.

While the council hailed the result of her court case yesterday, pro-smoking lobbyists condemned the move as “draconian”. Moorcroft appeared at Bolton Magistrates Court on Wednesday, where she admitted failing to prevent smoking in a smoke-free premises.

Every customer who was caught smoking in the pub was also given a £50 fine.

Moorcroft, who lives at the pub and is the designated premises supervisor and licence holder, declined to comment when The Bolton News contacted her.

However, she was backed by pub landlord Nick Hogan, who was jailed for letting customers smoke at the Swan Inn, in Churchgate, Bolton.

Mr Hogan, who now runs the Swan With Two Necks pub in Chorley, said: “Everything I predicted in 2007 has come true. The loss of pubs has been phenomenal. Bolton town centre is no longer the vibrant place it used to be.

“To be fining people operating their own businesses, with the consent of their customers, is draconian. This woman is probably trying to make her business work and has bills to pay. Tobacco is still a legal product.”

Mr Hogan was fined by Bolton magistrates after he was found guilty of breaching the smoking ban in January, 2008, for allowing customers to smoke in his pub. He was jailed in 2010 for failing to pay those fines, only to be released when an internet campaign raised more than £10,000. Simon Clark, director of smokers’ lobbying group Forest, said: “These are consenting adults and a pub is a private property.”

Since the smoking ban was introduced on July 1, 2007, any place of work which is open to the public and enclosed must be smokefree.

Cllr Nick Peel said: “There are still some business owners who continue to disregard the Act. In this case, the business owner was not only allowing smoking, but was caught in the act of smoking herself and we are pleased with the substantial fine awarded.”