Sunday, 30 November 2014

Hiding your smoke

Last Thursday, the local CAMRA branch presented its Pub of the Month award to the Fletcher Moss in Didsbury. It’s an excellent pub well deserving of the accolade, and a good time was had by all on the night. I noticed that at the back it had a particularly well-designed outside smoking shelter, with plenty of seating and enclosed on two sides. But is that something I’m really allowed to tell people about?

As Simon Clark recounts here, Imperial Tobacco has set up a website and app called Smoke Spots which aims to show people the locations of smoker-friendly pubs, clubs and restaurants. He doesn’t actually think it makes a very good job of it, and certainly there’s very little listed in my local area.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against an advert for Smoke Spots on the grounds that it is allegedly promoting smoking and showing it in a positive light. However, even within a context of the tobacco advertising ban, a website clearly isn’t a tobacco product, and this ruling seems to stray into the territory of restricting freedom of speech.

As Simon says, “Smoke Spots provides legitimate information for consumers of a legal product, advising them where they can light up in relative comfort without inconveniencing non-smokers.” The existence of smoking shelters is a matter of observable fact, but in our censorious, politically correct society it is apparently unacceptable to tell anyone else about in a form that is visible to the public.

So, bear in mind, when the alcohol advertising ban comes in, you won’t even be allowed to publicise that beer is available in a particular pub, let alone which beers.

Oh, and off the top of my head I would say that the Armoury and Royal Oak in Edgeley, the Arden Arms in Stockport town centre and the Railway in Marple all have pretty decent covered smoking areas within what the law allows. So come on, make that complaint!


  1. Looking at that site, it appears you can create an account, have a log in and put in all the information you have on pulchritudinous stockport and do your bit for a cause you clearly believe in. Or can't you be arsed, like?

  2. Or maybe you should, given that you are more likely than me to take advantage of such facilities...

  3. Smoking's filthy. I think all smokers should be locked up and spanked daily by ladies that look like Rhianna.

  4. Happily, where I live there's no need for a website like that. Regardless of the stupid laws imposed upon us from Brussels, there are many (most) bars where ashtrays are provided both on the bar and on the tables. The locals don't take kindly to lifestyle diktats, and tend to ignore them.

    They have the selfsame attitude to mandatory seat-belts (the laws concerning which heralded the thin end of the wedge of the gradual but relentless removal of freedom of choice) and crash helmets.

    Quiet but dogged resistance is the attitude here. A (generally, but not always) muted "Fuck 'em - who do they think they are?".

    And long may it continue. God forbid that they should end up meekly allowing themselves to be trampled over by health'n'safety zealots like the Brits seem to do.

  5. Another interesting thing about that site is that as a tobacco company tool it's about outside areas that are nicer than the usual shit heap out back by the bins. It neglects the current fad of vaping which I would guess is eating their breakfast. I went in a couple of boozers at the weekend where people were doing that inside the pub. Others appear to kick them out with the smokers. That would be relevant information and would, I suspect, be a factor in pub choice for some.

    By my anecdotal observation it appears a growing trend. Assumptions that it is safer, the fact that it is cheaper and maybe to get round smoking bans. Also by observation it appears the more popular devices are those obtained from small independent temporary shops, rather than supermarkets. Maybe because supermarkets now hide rather than display these sort of wares.

    Some of the devices look quite elaborate. As if the user has spent a bob or two on a habit they intend to maintain. So I doubt they are tools for people giving up.

  6. You may recall me writing about vaping here. It certainly may be a factor in people choosing one pub above another because they can vape indoors.

    Even if people continue vaping long-term, it still means they've given up or cut down on smoking, and recent reports have shown that the number of non-smokers taking it up is negligible.

  7. More Advertising Standards Authority fascism -


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