Monday, 12 December 2011

In memory of the smoky pub

Phil Mellows is normally someone who seems to have his finger on the pulse of the licensed trade, and has been alert to the threat from the anti-drink lobby. But this posting about the smoking ban is, sadly, the most ignorant and bigoted nonsense imaginable. He concludes:

I supported the idea that pubs might, by installing efficient ventilation and air-cleaning kit, ‘remove the smoke – not the smoker' as the slogan went. But over a number of years, as the pub trade fought a rearguard action against legislation, it became clear to me that the world was changing and that people – smokers and non-smokers alike – were ready for a ban.

And so it's proved. The smoking ban, it's true, was the last nail in the coffin for some pubs but the vast majority, and their customers, have adapted to the new circumstances.

Has it made pubs better places? I'm afraid you have to say it has.
It’s some adaptation when pubs have lost 25% of their beer trade in less than five years. And are all those pubs that have closed, and those that have lost most of their regulars and are now just running on empty, really better places?

And he repeats the old canard that, in the days before the ban, non-smokers felt obliged to throw their clothes in the washing machine after a night in the pub, whereas in reality I doubt whether even 1% did.

Edit 16/12/11: and four days on, no comments have been approved on that article, even though I and several of the commenters here have said they have submitted some. Are they afraid of open debate or something?


  1. It has certainly made my local a better place especially if you like your own company.

  2. Well, I customarily put all my clothes in the wash basket every night. If smoky pubs made skanky anti-smokers do the same thing, we need to bring them back.

  3. I'm a smoker. I shower and wear clean clothes every day. Always have.

    Even though I no longer visit the pub at all.

    I suppose that means the stench of stale clothes is more pleasing to the antismoker nostril than a bit of smoke. Good luck to them, I find that particular odour absolutely repellent.

  4. I don't buy that old story about non-smokers having to chuck their clothes in the washing machine either, although as my wife and I are both smokers, perhaps we don't notice it as much. What I do know is that when I was a little kid, long before I started smoking or drinking, I would walk through town past the open doors of pubs and whiff the magical smell of beer and stale fag smoke, The Great Smell of Pub. If Chanel could bottle that, I'd be queueing up at Harrod's.

  5. If you changed your clothes every day, then you would do so anyway regardless of whether you had been to the pub. You wouldn't say "gah, I've been to the pub, my clothes stink, I'll have to put them in the wash!"

    And people don't wash coats after one wearing.

  6. Many more pubs to close over this winter as well. Nearly all of them seem to be empty.
    The smell I can't stand and that really does stick on my clothes is poxy perfume. Ban it.

  7. Pathetic smokerphobes. Hateful and spiteful zombies.
    Doubt if they even have the balls to comment cogently here.

  8. If you don't like the smell of smoke, don't go where there's smoke.

    The antismokers who claimed that the fact that a pub was a pub kept them away have not overwhelmed publicans with their custom, apart from people with babies, who have always been unwelcome.

  9. BNB and LI beat me to the obvious comment.

    For sure, people don't wash their coats every day, but you normally only wear them outside. And if people have fancy best jackets that they only wear to the pub, it doesn't actually matter if they smell of smoke for a few hours afterwards or not.

    This all reminds me, on the German TV show "Wetten Das" there was once a contestant who said all his local pubs all smelled subtly different and that he could tell them apart just by the smell.

    They tested him by hanging up a different T-shirt in each one and making him sniff them on live TV. He managed to get half of them right, which was quite impressive, but the conclusion was, it was an unfair challenge because they'd lost so much of the smell in the hours or day it took to transport them all to the studio.

  10. Lets be honest,these anti smokers
    tend to be nannymen,mummies boys
    or characters with a flawed upbringing,usually an inabilty to
    form natural relationships.
    No doubt ,seeing elderly and disabled people standing in the rain and cold ,gives them some sort of pathological high.
    Maybe a misplaced feeling of superiority.
    As a matter of interest I cant remember anyone FORCED BY LAW to go into a smoky pub
    Wait till the DRUG companies develope their A.R.T (Alcohol Replacement Treatment) drugs,naturally availble on the NHS
    Boy oh boy the drinkers will wither
    under the onslaught
    Bring it on

    The Leffe Lad

  11. Great! Well, if he and ASH et al are right and society (smoker and non-smoker) have really moved on, then there's no need for the legislation, is there?

    So let's repeal it and see what happens. I think we all KNOW what would happen which is why this sort of revisionist tosh is even more annoying. It's just such obvious nonsense....

  12. That's a shame. I've got him on RSS as he writes good stuff about scaremongery towards alcohol (sure he featured in a link tank one Saturday), and I did think he 'got it' about how we're all being screwed over by publicly-funded rent-seekers.

    Obviously not.

  13. Yes, I was a bit taken aback by that one, as, as I said, he does generally write sense and seems to understand what's going on.

  14. Mr A: Nice rebuttal!
    Did I get first comment or is he inundated with moderation work, or has he just pressed the delete all key?

    Anyway I sent:
    "people – smokers and non-smokers alike – were ready for a ban" Come off it Phil, you've been reading those YouGov pols again managed by ASH place men. I wasn't ready, am not ready and never will be. And you know that the pub trade has been decimated - or worse, with thousands of people thrown on the scrap heap just "'to protect them from 'passive smoke'". Tobacco Control has now given over harping about this and has revealed its true purpose of making people stop smoking. As smoking rates have not declined, and have risen in Scotland and Ireland it all worked really well, didn't it?

    As for washing clothes every night that's hooey, and always has been. Give it a rest.

  15. I sent a comment much earlier on - maybe he only does approvals during office hours.

  16. Not sure about these smoking defenders who think changing your clothes every day is (to quote) 'hooey'. I did before the ban and I do now. Several pro-smokers on this thread who dismiss a daily change of clothes must be rather fruity without realising it! Perhaps the smoke has dulled their sense of smell.

  17. I see no "pro-smokers" in these comments. I see anti-smoking-ban pro-liberty people defending freedom of choice and private property rights, an idea that self-righteous bigoted intolerant left-wing sycophants for Stalin The Murderer have never managed to grasp.

  18. So any clean-living person who wears a business suit pops it in the dry-cleaners' every day at £10+ a go?

  19. Red Nev.

    So, I take it you always put on a clean pair of jeans/trousers EVERY day. And a clean pullover, and jacket, and overcoat. All placed in the laundry basket at the end of the night? Some would describe that as a Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Or lying.

    And yea, I'm a pro smoker, as opposed to anti smoker. Didn't used to be - I led most of my life believing in 'live and let live', and as a non smoker between 2006 and 2010. Not any more, smokers could easily have been catered for. Compromise should have been the watchword.

    On a sunnier note, the backlash against draconian bans is well under way. Not in the UK as yet, but certainly in other countries, such as Greece, Holland and Belgium, where bans are being totally ignored in many bars. The domino effect has started. Enjoy your sterile pubs while you can.

  20. You all seem to be falling into the same trap that those you berate fall into: you all appear prone to gross generalisation - you declare that a non-smoker is an anti-smoker, a "smokophobe" (not sure that is a real word).

    I am a non-smoker; I have never smoked, and never understood why anyone would want to smoke. Also, I do not understand how any man can be sexually attracted to another man (I don't even understand how WOMEN can find a man sexually attractive, but am glad they do, even if very few - very, very few... well, none actually, but I may not be alone there - apply it to me).

    However, though I may not like the habit, it means nothing to me that you enjoy it. Unless, that is, I am in your company; if you are then indulging in something that you enjoy (smoking), you will probably be even better company! That said, you have to appreciate that the non-smoker should allow you the right to fill your lungs, so please observe his right NOT to have his lungs filled.


  21. I doubt if it is worth entering this argument, but I will say this about washing. You did have to wash a lot more clothes then. And wash yourself a lot more too. When I wore a suit, I avoided pubs while wearing it for the dry cleaning reason that Mudgie outlines. I did chuck everything else in the laundry and chose carefully what old coat to wear.

    As for pullovers, trousers and coats, these can now happily be worn a few times.

    Nor do I have to dive straight in the shower after a pub visit. Small matters maybe, but they have made me feel better. They have also stopped my Mrs saying "You stink".

    Not the most selfless reasons in the scheme of things I know, but a fact nonetheless.

  22. Tangleman - I'm amazed you bothered to go to pubs pre ban.

    Up until the wusses took over, in 30 odd years I don't think I ever met anyone who has claimed to have dived into the shower post pub.

    Well, not unless they'd pulled.;)

  23. prog. Like most sensible people I chose my time and place.

  24. PS I refer you to RedNev's earlier response.

  25. Why? Nev referred to changing clothes every day. When did he claim to have dived into the shower after a night in the pub?

  26. All this talk of clothes washing is irrelevant because, were the ban to be amended, there would be an ample supply of non smoking pubs. Why can't anti smokers get this into their thick heads?

  27. @Anon: Because they'd be in a virtually empty pub (until it closed for good), whereas most people (including some of their friends) would be having fun in the popular ones.

    Pre ban I asked one of my employees if he was looking forward to it (I already knew the answer, him being an anti). Anyway I suggested a reasonable compromise could have been reached - separate smoking and non smoking rooms. He replied (with a straight face) that all his friends would be in the smoking room, whilst he'd be stuck in the non smoking room. As if I gave a f***k - at least he'd have had a choice. He's an arrogant little creep - just been sacked from his last job (for slagging off his boss in front of clients and then blatantly lying to justify his actions). And, yes, thick as well.

  28. Tandleman wrote: "I did chuck everything else in the laundry and chose carefully what old coat to wear."

    So, pre ban, every single time you went to the pub, you felt compelled to chuck your kecks in the laundry? And you never went to the pub either at lunchtime or in the early evening directly from work?

    If true (which I somewhat doubt) then that places you in the extreme 0.1% of extreme, obsessive-compulsive, princess and the pea smokophobes.

  29. And I see Phil Mellows hasn't approved any comments yet. Is he frit or something?

  30. In reply to prog, I'm neither a liar, nor am I compulsive-obsessive, but details of my personal hygiene are really of little interest to readers of this blog. I believe my general point was clear to most people, and if it wasn't, I really can't be bothered explaining.

  31. So then, it looks like everyone here could agree to a compromise solution where-by pub owners would be permitted the right they already had in the first place by way of property and business rights to establish separate smoking rooms for the smokers to use and continue with all the government dictated non-smoking rooms for those who do not want to do their laundry or shower immediately upon returning home from the pub because of stench of smoke and unfounded fears of second-hand-smoke-harm to use. Lovely. When does it come up for vote.

  32. Can I assume the smoke hating fusspots dislike pubs which serve
    bin men,streetcleaners,
    navvies,hospital workers and various others who tend to "hum" a little
    The simple truth is ,the self righteous,pontificating,petty little parish pump pansies live in
    a middle earth self imposed nightmare of hatred of other's
    At least when we had smoky pubs we
    could'nt smell the bullshit from
    the half men who now haunt the inns of England.

    Back to normal,quick

  33. Oh dear, here we go again :(

    Pubs are on the decline because successive Governments have wanted it that way!

    All the tosh about second-hand smoke, safe weekly alcohol limits, the binge-drinking 'epidemic' has been believed by more and more people over the last 2 decades.

    It is upto the non-Governmental, non-Health 'Care' professionals to expose this manipulation and gather the support of the majority. If this ever happens, I will support them fully - but I doubt it will :(

    In the meantime, I'll play by the rules and patronise my local with my ecig in my gob, drink good beer and have a laugh!

    If my pub closes, I'll get together with like-minded rebels and plot!!

  34. 'If my pub closes, I'll get together with like-minded rebels and plot!!'

    You don't exactly come across as a 'like-minded rebel' (if you don't mind me saying so).

  35. I know :(

    I'm misunderstood by the masses cos I'm a selfish c@nt!! :P

    When the others click onto my/our wavelength, we may be able to do summat!

    There is way too much whinging and not enough thinking going off.

    If you love pubs and all that they mean; have a think, a drink and come out the other end with a plan that can help them! Do not just play the game that has already been established - they made the rules, and they will win :(


    PS I'm p@ssed ;)

  36. Is this hankering after a smoke-fugged pub some kind of desire to see the world in sepia?

  37. Nope - it's a desire to live in a free country again. It really is that straightforward.

  38. I can't envisage any return to what we used to have. In the words of Joanie Mitchell; "You don't know what you got 'til it's gone". When it's gone, it's gone. No return to smoking pubs in the near future.

    As for keeping the pub culture alive in Britain it is incumbent on all of us to keep pubs going. Choose your pubs, ones that you like - for whatever reason - and give it your love and money. Join the crib team, the doms team, the darts team. If the pub doesn't do food, ask the landlord if he minds a customers' cheese night, or something like that. There is no limit to customer input, think of it as a community asset and work to keep it.

  39. Why? We no longer enjoy ourselves in Pubs having to sit outside or go outside. If they had fought a little harder against a total smoking ban they would have had, and still have, our support but they didn't.

    We will not spend our money in somewhere we don't enjoy and we used to spend quite a bit. It was a slow process but, eventually, it's finished.

  40. "Choose your pubs, ones that you like - for whatever reason - and give it your love and money."

    Why? So we can be told to stand on the naughty step outside every time we go? What pleasure is there in that?

    When I'm in UK, I don't even bother with pubs anymore. And not just because I'm forced outside if I want a smoke. They have lost that ability that was the hallmark of a good pub to engender cameraderie between strangers. Most of them have become as sterile as a doctor's waiting room. I used to love the pub, but they won't be getting my money anymore. Why should they? Let the anti-smokers support them. (Ha Ha. It won't be long before they ban alcohol in pubs too. The Neo-Puritans are on a roll.)

  41. Martin, Cambridge15 December 2011 at 20:02

    I'd say 1% is about right for the number of pubs I've been in where the smoke was unpleasant - I still recall one particular Hydes pubs a few mile north of central Bolton with particular affection !

  42. Well, I've been in pubs where I've found other people's smoke irritating. I sometimes used to feel people put their fags down in the ashtray in a way calculated so that the smoke would drift in my direction.

    I've also been irritated by flatulence, body odour, cooking smells, aggressive drunks, ingratiating bores and howling children. But that doesn't mean I want to see any of it banned. Just confined to separate rooms. Especially the children.

  43. I've always enjoyed and supported decent pubs and do so more now that the law has had to be used to prevent selfish and ignorant people inflicting the unhealthy overspill of their habit on me and others. The pubs I attend - good pubs with an atmosphere, well-kept ale, and a talented landlord/landlady - are just as busy as before the ban, if not more so.

  44. Ooh, what an original anti-smoker comment! I don't think I've ever heard those exact sentiments expressed in that exact way before. Anti-smokers are such original thinkers, and such joyous souls too!

    And they are most certainly not mind-numbingly myopic sheep who wilfully and inexplicably ignore the avalanche of evidence that shows the smoking ban a) isn't about health, but rather money and control, b) has ruptured society and harmed the quality of life of millions, and c) has set a precedent for state interference that is being eagerly replicated across all sorts of other fields. Oooh no.

  45. No, it's not an original comment. It is a widely-held viewpoint of many pub-goers.

    I regret that the smoking ban was necessary. It may well have set a precident for more state control, but the blame for this lies with the minority who like to smoke but have no respect for others' quality of life.

  46. Now that is some world class twisted logic. Smokers are responsible for the smoking ban! (The exact same logic that blames rape victims for being attacked. Nice).

    Like I said, myopic. 'Selfish' would be another word.

    Anyway. Enjoy your smug, ex post facto rationalisation of an obscene law that diminishes *everyone's* lives for no benefit, and let me know how it feels when something you care about is 'denormalised'. Oh, and how it feels when some twat pops up on the internet and blames you for it.

  47. You really have lost the argument if you resort to personal insults.

    I hope the moderators take note.

  48. "It is a widely-held viewpoint of many pub-goers."

    Yes, sadly, many pubgoers are unpleasant, intolerant, bigoted people.

    And I hardly see that, as you are posting anonymously, anything can be regarded as a personal insult.

  49. "and do so more now"

    Eureka! We've found one! The exception that proves the rule? So all those figures of pub closures and reduced beer consumption by several commercial organisations are completely false. 25% reduction of the stock in Ireland since their ban is a figment of somebody's imagination?

    Anna Gilmore. The truth!


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