How to combat this lunatic ban

By Adam Edwards

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New york Smoking ban Smoking

Smokers will become public pariahs when Government legislation kicks in next year. Defiant ADAM EDWARDS reveals how pub puffers could outwit the smoking police

The news that, in anticipation of the new

anti-smoking legislation, the no-smoking Rutland and Derby Arms in Leicester is providing Puffa "smoking jackets" for its customers to keep warm when they go outside for a cigarette evokes the dark days of American prohibition.

Then it was drinkers who were the devil incarnate and they had special jackets made with concealed pockets to hide hip flasks (the state of Indiana eventually banned the sale of the flasks).

That was when the Americans drank in secret bars known as "speakeasies". The most famous of them was New York's 21 Club.

At the first sign of a raid its owners would activate a system of pulleys and levers that would tip up the bar shelves and hurl the bottles down a chute on to a mass of metal spikes and into the New York sewer system.

Meanwhile, in the basement, behind a shelved wall filled with tinned goods a perfectly camouflaged door was built as part of the main wall.

Inserting a slender meat skewer through one of the cracks in the brick wall opened the door that slid back to reveal a huge drinks cellar. (The inventor of this clever device was never able to reveal the secret of its workings because he was presented, by way of thanks, with a cement overcoat).

Like the introduction of the "smoking jackets", a variation on the New York speakeasy may be a way to cope with the lunatic smoking ban that is expected to come into force next summer.

A hidden door, perhaps made to look like an oblong bottle cooler, might lead into a large enclosed tent-like canopy leaning against an outside wall. A hatch bar from a window inside the pub could open on to it.

In the centre of the enclosed area would be a South African style barbecue - a circle of stone with burning coals.

Surrounding this fire, against which the standing smoker could rest his foot in a proprietary manner, would be clusters of inflatable armchairs with built-in drink-holders converted to hold cigarettes and ashtrays.

Each guest would automatically be given a "smoking jacket" when he came through the "cooler door".

If and when the smoking police raid the premises the landlord would pull a rope that would allow the canvas sides of the lean-to tent to drop. The hatch bar window would be closed, revealing a trompe l'oeil of an empty beer garden while smokers would pull on their jackets and stub their cigarettes out on the inflatable chairs - thereby proving the tent was a temporary structure.

The now non-smokers would look to all and sundry like well wrapped-up drinkers waiting for an al fresco burger.

The alternative to this scenario is to follow the excellent example set by Britain's hunting men and women who have pretended to obey the daft legislation that banned hunting with dogs by renaming the sport "hunting within the law" and carrying on as normal.

Perhaps smoking should be renamed "smoking within the law" and we will continue to puff in bars but with the doors and windows wide open.

Expert's warning is smokescreen

While on the subject of going outside for a smoke I see Professor Ian Gilmore, a leading liver expert, has warned that the Government's recent licensing legislation will turn Britain into "Hogarth's Gin Lane".

It seems more likely that the draconian anti-smoking legislation will do just that.

Rude walkers were born in barns

I was sitting nursing a Saturday pint of Young's fruity St George's spring ale in the snug of the Seven Tuns in the Cotswolds when the door bangs open and a gang of anoraks barge in. "Door," I shout at the barn-born ramblers.

One of them turns sourly to shut it just as another phalanx of the woolly hat brigade arrives with the cold air. The door is left open.

After they order soft drinks and half-pints of shandy, a lengthy discussion follows on whether or not to consume the feeble drinks outside. It is an academic debate as by now it is as cold inside the bar as it is out.

That does not stop the perambulating fascists making it clear by nuance and gesture that they don't approve of the snug's tobacco smoke

and beer fumes. They decide to go back to nature with their lemonade. The last one leaves the door ajar.

"Door," I shout, but they are completely deaf to my request.

My decision to spend my lunchtime drinking in the amber nectar instead of sucking in fresh air makes me a modern pariah to these right-on storm troopers that sadly believe that nowadays the English countryside is for bracing "fun" not funnels of beer.

Related topics Licensing law

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more