Friday 21 January 2011

Smoking in pubs: what I’d forgotten

The place was actually open and trading for a start. It wasn’t one of the 7,000-odd that have closed since 1 July 2007.
It was busy, lively and convivial. There was good crack on the vault side.
There were some genuine characters in the place.
There were dogs. Proper country dogs. That belonged to the smokers.
There wasn’t an offputting aroma of sweat, flatulence, urine, cooking fat and cleaning fluid.
Half the customers weren’t forced to cower outside in the rain and wind like pariahs.
There weren’t any humourless middle-class bigots sitting in the middle of an empty room proclaiming how nice it was now there was no smoke – and no smokers – in the pub.
Nobody moaned about how supermarkets were killing pubs.
Oh, it was terrible. I’d gladly have it back tomorrow.

(prompted by this from someone who you might have thought would know better)


  1. Every pint in the pub tasted slightly of smoke though, that and that fact you got closer to cancer every time you went in there.

  2. Mark (another one)21 January 2011 at 11:17

    You were no closer to cancer every time you went into a smoke-filled pub. There is no evidence to suggest that your assertion is correct.

    You were one drink closer to liver failure, alcoholism and a host of other drink-related diseases though.

    I suspect that you, Mark, wouldn't have minded separate, ventilated smoking areas though. The overwhelming majority of people are happy with this compromise.

    I cling onto this fact when I start to think the British have become intolerant and precious. Poll after poll shows we're reasonable after all.

  3. Anyone would think there was once a law making it compulsory for pubs to permit smoking. Odd that the market takes care of every other preference but, with smoking, nobody was prepared to get rich by opening a smokefree pub- apart from the Hare and Hounds in Todmorden, which lasted a few months (must have been its location, eh). Why didn't you neurotics avoid cancer by going to it while it was open?

  4. "There weren’t any humourless middle-class bigots sitting in the middle of an empty room proclaiming how nice it was now there was no smoke – and no smokers – in the pub."

    It's worse than that. At the one pub near where I work where there are half way decent smoking facilities (IR heaters and awning), the 'humourless middle class bigots' who walk past flap their hands under their noses and say how disgusting it is that WE are polluting THEIR space.

  5. Re: Mark's reference to people flapping their hands. I'm a non-smoker, BUT I'm not writing to repeat yet again the same arguments about the ban.

    My point is this: when I was a trade union rep, our employer banned smoking from all buildings a year before the national ban. Once the ban came in, I got complaints from a small minority of non-smokers about the faint whiff of smoke you might smell for a second before entering the building, or even the fact that smokers could take a smoking break.

    I told them I wasn't prepared to take these complaints forward, and besides I'd seen them chatting by the tea point or water cooler. That didn't go down well, so I told them it wasn't my job to represent their pet hates to management, but there was nothing to stop them doing so themselves. Funnily enough, none of them did: they just wanted me to fire the bullets.

    I now hear the same whinge - again from a minority - about a whiff of smoke as people enter pubs. I just say, "I'm sure you can cope with it for a second or two."

    Yes, there are some annoying anti-smoking bigots. In fact I went out with one for two years; I've never met anyone so anti-smoking. When I bumped into her years later in a pub, there she was puffing away.

    She admitted she'd been an ex-smoker when she met me. The worst anti-smokers in my experience are often ex-smokers. They can almost evangelical and they bore me as much as I'm sure they bore smokers.

  6. RedNev: You make a very good point about the change in attitudes since the ban.

    As you say, prior to it, restrictions on smoking - brought in voluntarily - were observed and everyone got on, but the legitimising of smoker hatred that the ban introduced (it is purposely and sinisterly termed 'denormalisation') has encouraged certain anti-smokers to be haughty and superior, whilst simultaneously alienating smokers to such an extent that they naturally become aggressively defensive when confronted. It's a classic case of the state making things worse overall with unintended consequences to their actions.

    That anecdote about your ex was amusing. :)

  7. 21 days into 2011 and this is your first posting on the elephant in the room? You're slowing down. Still, he did rather line that one up for you:)

  8. "21 days into 2011 and this is your first posting on the elephant in the room? You're slowing down."

    Never been a single-issue blog, old chap :-)

  9. What a dinosaur you are Curmudgeon. Life was so much better in the old days eh? Why not bring back outside toilets too while we're at it...


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