Air quality: Clear options

Related tags Smoking Tobacco smoking Atmosphere Cask ale Phil mellows

Phil Mellows looks at how to decide on an alternative option to 'smoking allowed throughout'.For the time being there are plenty of options open to...

Phil Mellows looks at how to decide on an alternative option to 'smoking allowed throughout'.

For the time being there are plenty of options open to publicans who want to improve their air quality and impress their staff and customers as well as the government. There are alternative policies to "smoking allowed throughout" that are not only viable from a business point of view but can even improve your trade. The key is to choose a policy that suits your pub and your customers.

There is no better place to start than by finding out what your regulars think. Many licensees have already used AIR's standard Pub Users' Ballot and a lot of them have been surprised to find their customers, even the ones who smoke, have been in favour of a stricter smoking policy.

There are three basic options you can think about.

  • No smoking at the bar

This helps even small pubs to tackle smoke at what is perhaps the most sensitive spot in your pub.

You have a duty of care towards your staff so if they are unnecessarily exposed to cigarette smoke they may have a case against you in law.

Banning smoking at the bar demonstrates you take your barstaff's health seriously, especially if you combine it with ventilation that takes smoke away from the working area and install air cleaners above the bar.

New research by AIR is suggesting that this is perhaps the most cost effective solution for smaller pubs.

Your staff will feel happier and there may be additional benefits, such as less crowding at the bar and quicker service.

No smoking areas

A lot of pubs have found that by making dining areas no smoking they have attracted new customers as well as giving their regulars a comfortable atmosphere to eat in.

Again you need to plan ventilation properly so smoke is carried away from the no smoking area rather than into it.

Licensees have found that wet take tends to go up as well as food take as customers spend longer in the pub.

Where no smoking areas have been introduced sales have been shown to increase by an average of seven per cent.

And once a no smoking area has been established and successful, you can think about extending it.

No smoking throughout

This is obviously the most radical measure - but it has proved suitable for certain pubs, especially those with a large food business. Smoke-free pubs have been able to attract new customers, cornering a particular market in the local area.

Beneficial spin-offs include reducing your cleaning and decorating costs - and no ashtrays to clean either!

Contact the Atmosphere Improves Results campaign if you want to get a Pub Users' Ballot pack or need free signage to enforce your smoking policy.

Case study: the Doublet, Glasgow

Like a lot of traditional community houses the Doublet has many smokers among its regular customers and owner Alistair Don, the current president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, was a little sceptical when the results of his customer and staff survey came out in favour of a ban on smoking at the bar of the small pub.

"I was initially concerned that it might not work in practice," he says. "But there have been very few problems. The approach seems to be working well and my customers and staff are pleased.

"Before the ban, especially when the pub was busy, even my smoking customers were uncomfortable with the air quality. Something needed to be done but as the pub is relatively small a no smoking area would have been very difficult to make work."

Combined with a new ventilation system, customers and staff alike have noticed the improvement.

Case study: the Cambridge Blue, Cambridge

Debbie and Chris Lloyd are among a handful of smoke-free pub pioneers having had a no smoking pub in their charge as long ago as 1992. They converted the Cambridge Blue, a famous cask ale pub in the heart of the city, to a no smoking venue at the end of 1999.

"We didn't like the idea of allowing smoking in the pub," says Debbie. "Our staff felt uncomfortable in the smoky atmosphere and many of our customers also felt that smoke was a problem."

Now customers have to go into the garden if they want to smoke. "Enforcement was easy as many loyal customers were already used to the no smoking policy at our other pub," added Debbie. "There have been absolutely no glitches and we have had a lot of positive feedback.

"As no smoking pubs are quite rare we get customers from quite far away who want to eat and drink in a cleaner environment."

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