by The PMA Team
JD Wetherspoon is making an early start on its plan to open 60 non-smoking pubs in May of this year prior to a complete ban at all its 650 pubs the following year.
All three new Wetherspoon outlets to open this month will be completely non-smoking.
On 17 February, Waterend Barn the first Lloyds No 1 to go non-smoking opens in St Albans. Three days later, on 20 February, the Abraham Darby opens in the Merry Hill Centre in Dudley, West Midlands. Finally, the Draper's Arms, which as the Morning Adver-tiser revealed last week will be lightly branded to attract an upmarket clientele, opens on 27 February in Peterborough.
A further four pubs due to open before May will be non-smoking.
A JD Wetherspoon spokesman said: "It would be illogical to open these pubs as smoking pubs bearing in mind the forthcoming ban."
One City analyst, who asked not be named, has been critical of the decision to implement a complete smoking ban ahead of the Government's proposed ban on smoking pubs.
"It does seem to be all or nothing at JD Wetherspoon," he said. "There has to be better ways of doing this. Is Tim Martin running a political agenda rather than something more considered?
"The company has known a smoking ban has been coming for quite some time why hasn't it taken action to test how a ban will work sooner?" The decision to introduce a smoking ban in the entire JD Wetherspoon comes after the successful opening of the company's first non-smoking pub, the George's Meeting House in Exeter.
Executive chairman Tim Martin, who lives nearby, has been impressed with the early trading results at the pub.
He told the Morning Adver-tiser last week: "I have been here four or five times in the brief time it has been open and the remarkable thing is that, even though the pub has been busy, nobody has tried lighting up."