Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Step away from that door

Occasionally, I’ve heard whinges from antismokers that, on the three days a year they actually step out of the pub into the beer garden, they’re confronted with waves of fumes from those obnoxious smelly smokers. Perhaps they should have thought about that before supporting the smoking ban, because if all the smokers were safely ensconced in their own room inside the pub, which is where they would prefer to be anyway, the “problem” wouldn’t arise.

However, it seems as though salvation might be at hand, as a group of scientists in New Zealand are urging that smoking should also be restricted in outdoor areas of pubs to reduce its perceived social acceptability. This was based on an extensive and representative sample of a massive 13 people.

After the smoking ban, it supporters often argued that pubs were still able to accommodate smokers, and stepping outside if you wanted a fag was hardly any hardship at all, especially if there was a nice covered smoking shelter with patio burners. But, by preventing pubs from catering for smokers at all, such a move would inevitably kill the “community pub” stone dead. In spite of the ban, it is still the case that a higher proportion of smokers visit pubs than non-smokers – presumably because many non-smokers are sour-faced carrot-juice sippers who would never be seen dead in a pub anyway.

Of course, it’s never going to happen, is it? But it’s not that long ago that people were saying that about the blanket indoor smoking ban. And, at the very least, it’s opening up an Overton window to extend the scope of the debate.


  1. If the CAMRA answer to ever rising pub prices is to kybosh supermarkets for the sin of not raising prices over the years then.....

    The CAMRA answer is to ban smoking at home too!

    Do I win a prize?

  2. I take exception to being called a "sour-faced carrot-juice sipper"

    More of a avacado and wheatgrass man myself.

  3. Pubs are a place of work, they are also a gathering place for members of the public to meet and have a drink. Why should the staff and non smoking customers be subject to a substance which is likely to affect their health? Do you also advocate smoking in cinemas, churches, supermarkets, colleges?

    I am a former smoker who has no problem with anyone smoking. The ban was introduced to protect the health of staff not to persecute smokers.

  4. "Why should the staff and non smoking customers be subject to a substance which is likely to affect their health?"
    Why should staff die just so you can go to the cinema when ever it pleases you?

  5. "The ban was introduced to protect the health of staff not to persecute smokers. "

    No it wasn't, the core objective was to reduce smoking prevalence in society, in which it has singularly failed.

    Even if second-hand smoke was a significant health risk to workers (which it isn't) then the objective of protecting workers could have been achieved by restricting smoking to separate rooms in which no worker was continuously stationed. It is still legal for guests to smoke in hotel rooms, you know.

  6. As a recent convert to the " sour-faced carrot-juice sippers", I am often asked if the smoking ban had anything to do with my quitting. The answer is simply no. I also object to this notion that the smoking ban was intended to save the workers from horrible fumes. I have worked in numerous pubs and can safely say that in my experiences the number of people who work in pubs that smoke hugely outweighs the number who don't. The smoking ban was simply a covert way of the Government trying to interefere in how people run their own lives.

    A good analogy someone brought up the other day is this. The Government is probably right to encourage us to be healthy. Alcohol and fags are bad for us so naturally some duty should be levied. But fatty foods, driving a car, doing extreme sports and increasingly traversing the stairs (around 20 people die a year in the UK falling down the stairs). In the interest of fairness surely a duty should be applied to all of these activites and there doing made illegal where people work as well?

  7. Just for clarification, the "sour-faced carrot-juice sippers" comment wasn't directed at vegetarians, but at the general mindset of the Puritanical, joyless health-obsessed.

  8. Fredrik, English please.

    "Even if second-hand smoke was a significant health risk to workers (which it isn't)"

    Cancer Reasearch would disagree,

    "I have worked in numerous pubs and can safely say that in my experiences the number of people who work in pubs that smoke hugely outweighs the number who don't."

    What about non-smoking bar staff, do they not have a right to expect a clean working environment?

  9. "Fredrik, English please."


    “Seventeen studies have dealt with shift work and cardiovascular disease risk. On balance, shift
    workers were found to have a 40% increase in risk.” - study here

    Clearly, if staff did not have to work at weekends and evenings then their risk would be the same a those that work regular day time hours.

    Staff that work in smoke-free cinemas, smoke-free supermarkets, smoke-free pubs and smoke-free restaurants.

    Why staff should die just so you, Anonymous, can drink in a smoke-free pub whenever you feel like it?

  10. Fredrik, unfortunately the licensing hours dictate when I can drink legally in pubs.

    Most shift workers suffer ill health because of a disruption to cicadian rhythms and poor diet. Both can be eleviated through realigning sleep patterns and adopting a healthier diet. Smoking and passive smoking contributes to cancer deaths both can be eleviated by quitting and/or working in a clean air environment.

    Following your logic medical staff, police, emergency workers, military all die so that you are kept safe.

  11. Lapsed Catholic,

    Clearly there would be exemptions for essential services.

    You eating in a smoke-free restaurant whenever you feel like it is not essential. You going to a smoke-free cinema when ever you feel like it is not essential.

    Why should staff die just so you do things that you could either do at home or confine yourself to doing during normal working hours?

  12. Fredrik, are you seriously saying that by going to smoke free restaurants ans cinemas one is contributing to the deaths of the staff employed there?
    If everyone stays at home to eat, drink and watch movies on TV then retaurants, pubs and cinemas will close due to lack of business but the unemployed staff will live longer, I tthink that that is your logic.

    Are you also implying that the lives of essential/emergency staff are less important?

  13. Lapsed Catholic,
    "are you seriously saying that by going to smoke free restaurants ans cinemas one is contributing to the deaths of the staff employed there?"

    Are you seriously saying that by smoking in a pub one is contributing to the deaths of the staff working there?

    Why does it matter if pubs,restaurants close? Staff welfare is more important, surely?

    No one cares if pubs that smokers use close so why should it be any different for everyone else?

    You can still go to pubs during normal working hours. You can still go to restaurants during normal working hours.

    Of course, someone that works in an A&E is just as important as someone that works in a smoke-free restaurant. But how many lives have you saved by eating in smoke-free restaurants whenever you feel like it? How many lives are saved when you worship in a smoke-fee church when ever you feel like it?How many lives are saved when you shop in a smoke-fee supermarket when ever you feel like it?

  14. fredrik,
    Superbly argued points. I imagine that many less articulate people are secretly applauding you.
    The shame is, these people only ever get patronised, but never listened to.

  15. Martin, Cambridge22 February 2012 at 19:46

    I've seen this type of complaint as well; the lack of tolerance in some people is staggering.

    There are many aspects of other pubgoers we may not like - children (I like them), people who block the bar, industrial language, loud boasters, indecisive food orderers etc etc. In the best pubs everyone accommodates each other.

  16. I love REAL pubs. I love the community aspect and the 'adultness' of REAL pubs. The smoking bans (including the the 'ban smoking from beer gardens so that social smoking is discouraged'), are not about the health of anyone, they are about destroying REAL pubs.

    Once the REAL pubs have all been forced to close through the inability to serve food or accommodate the children, we will see the overt focus of the 'antis', turning on alcohol itself.

    Alcohol will be seen to spoil a family meal in a 'pub'. It will become inappropriate to drink a pint or two in a place that serves food to 'responsible' people and their families. Alcohol will be the next target in public places.

    We will all then be only allowed to drink in the privacy of our own homes, even HIGHER taxes will be levied as it will be seen as an 'anti-social' drug. All pubs will just become eateries or creches and the 'evil' drinkers will become denormalised.

    This may sound like fantasy or the pathetic ramblings of a drunk, or is it prophetic? I'm not the only person to believe the latter!


  17. 'All pubs will just become eateries or creches'.
    That has already happened in my neck of the woods. I simply do not know of ONE pub in the two towns closest to me that has not gone down this route. But they still keep closing.

  18. @Russell - as Anon said, in many areas it's already happening. Ironically, while reviving pubs is often put forward (not least by CAMRA) as a means of alleviating drink-related problems in society, a climate of anti-drink hysteria tends to drive drinking out of the pub and into the home.

  19. I realise am a week late, but...

    The best suggestion here is the retained smoke room. As a lover of unspoilt pub interiors I know that such rooms are becoming rare. So it was a missed opportunity to provide, in allowing smoking in a designated room, leverage to pubco's and architects to retain old multi room interiors, or incorporate them in new builds.

    Don't smoke, never have, and yet I lose out along with everyone that does. Nobody wins.

  20. Some time before the ban, a pub I know very well, the Davenport Arms at Woodford, decided by a democratic vote of its regulars to confine smoking to the tap room, which accounts for about 25% of the floor area.

    That worked fine, and everyone was happy. Why that couldn't have been a blueprint for the rest of the pub trade beats me. And there was still good crack in the tap room, which is much diminished now.


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