Historic day for pubs as ban becomes fact

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Related tags: Ban, Smoking, Smoking ban

There were hopes that the ban would coincide with warm weather, but despite the heavy rain the big English stub-out went smoothly The introduction...

There were hopes that the ban would coincide with warm weather,

but despite the heavy rain the big English stub-out went smoothly

The introduction of the smoking ban passed off without incident in the vast majority of pubs across England.

Licensees reported few problems, with most smokers resigned to the new regulations. Council officers in several areas were out and about checking the new laws were being observed.

Hosts had hoped the first day of the ban would coincide with warm weather, but the rain meant smokers had to battle with the elements. Many pubs put on special events the night before to signal the end of an era.

Customers at the Early Retreat in Reading sang Auld Lang Syne and ceremoniously threw away the pub's ashtrays after last orders, before staff embarked on a deep clean of the whole premises.

Other licensees flagged up the ban by putting on special offers at Sunday lunchtime to encourage family diners. Manager of the Maidens pub in Reading, Yvonne Bicknell, offered free children's meals to mark the dawn of a new clean atmosphere.

Licensee of the Pheasant in Smethwick, Birmingham, Dave Holloway, has spent £10,000 on a new shelter but is cautious about the future.

"You will have a lot of initial moaning, but what can you do?" he said.

John Stather, licensee of the Anchor, Salterforth, Lancashire, said Sunday had been a non-event. "There were a few moans from customers, but we had no problems and trade was on a par with a normal Sunday. It was so wet that nobody was able to sit in the beer garden and only a handful used our outside umbrellas for a smoke."

The British Beer & Pub Association said Sunday had been a quiet day with no problems reported.

l Enforcing club ban - p5

Defiant licensees take on law

Drinkers staged a defiant protest on the first day of the national smoking ban by taking part in organised "light-ups" at three different pubs across the country.

Licensees of premises in Bolton, Blackpool and Hereford turned a blind eye to customers who openly flouted the new laws.

The smokers were allowed to light up free from the threat of any action from council enforcement officers, who stayed away despite the smoking sessions being openly publicised in advance.

The Swan in Churchgate, Bolton, witnessed the biggest protest when smokers from all over the country descended on the town-centre pub to voice their objections to the smoke ban.

Host Nick Hogan, a member of the Freedom To Choose group, which is seeking a judicial review of the ban, estimated some 800 people visited the pub on Sunday where trade was 50% up on the previous week.

Hogan said he made no attempt to stop people lighting up after he had pointed out the new law and the penalties for breaching it.

"It was a stand for democracy and people who did object to what I was doing had the right to go elsewhere. We had all the signs clearly displayed so people could be in no doubt about where they stood," Hogan said.

Customers at the Dog Inn in Ewyas Harold near Hereford, were also allowed to smoke freely thanks to licensee Tony Blows. He said: "I explained the new law to

customers, but I was not going to run the risk of subjecting my staff to threats if they tried to tell people to stub out their cigarettes."

l Council enforcement officers visited host Nick Hogan at the Swan in Churchgate, Bolton, on Monday following his organised "light up" at the pub on Sunday.

Hogan has been warned he is breaking the law and a further prosecution warning will follow if smoking continues inside the pub.

comedian offers smokers haven

A stand-up comedian has been touring London's pubs in a hearse offering shivering smokers a haven.

Liam Mullone has been asking smokers outside pubs and offices to give his "Civil Rights Response Unit" a bell if they want a smoke in comfort.

"The smoking hearse will blow one last puff of smoke in the face of the Blair/Brown oligarchy," he said. "It will provide smokers with a place to light up out of the weather. I have a nice little smoking room in the back where you can light up, watch telly, listen to music and generally chill out."

Mullone believes he can beat the ban in public spaces by stipulating that those who enter must first befriend him on the community website MySpace. "The smoking hearse is not a public space. It is a private vehicle. I agree to pick you up for a smoke because you are my friend. No money changes hands. There is no transaction. Just friendship and camaraderie between smokers."

licensees' smoke-ban comments on MA website

The MA's online forum was buzzing as licensees posted their views on the first day of the ban. While some were happy about the fresher atmosphere, others expressed concern about the impact on trade. Here are some highlights:

Roy Andrews

Once the smoking customers went out to the sheltered area, the non-smokers followed them. The inside of my pub was all but empty; the yard area was quite busy, considering. It's ironic to think that it's the non-smokers who we are meant to be protecting but they are in the same place as the smokers - even the staff came outside due to boredom.

Nigel Maud

"What an interesting day... As you know, we've been no-smoking for over six months. Many smokers who left in January returned and stated that they did drink in other pubs because we had gone no-smoking, but as there was now a total ban, they had decided to return. As it made no difference where they drank, they came back to their closest pub."

Dianne Durnian

"The pub was a joy to clean this morning - no ashtrays to wash, no smell, no fag ends in the urinal or all over the carpet, no crushed fag packets chucked on the floor. But there was no increased interest in food and my Sunday roast only costs £4!"

Peter Eveleigh

"There's certainly something different going on, with a straw poll around the town's other pubs saying the same. Summary: extremely quiet all round. Only half the pool team turned up for practice, likewise only 15% of our new and (normally) very enthusiastic football team arrived after their training session. Lunches and other meals: down 75%."

Visit www.morningadvertiser.co.uk​ to join the big smoking debate.

pub-goers views

Smokers

Steve Buckle:

I believe that grown-ups should be able to choose. Pubs should be able to have a sign outside saying they are smoking or not and then you choose whether to come in. I will now probably not drink in pubs as often. I would certainly rather stay at home; you can buy cheap booze and invite people around for more BBQs.

Dan Pollard:

I have smoked 20 a day for the last 15 years. I think the ban is a good thing, I really do. People who do smoke will feel under pressure to stop smoking. I think I will come to the pub just the same as before. It's just changing with the times. I see it as an opportunity to give up.

Fiona Tamplin:

I am a smoker but I feel the ban is a positive thing as it means people like myself won't smoke as much. It is easy to chain smoke when you are in a pub, but if you have to go outside then it will reduce the amount of smoking. Maybe the rain will stop me going out to smoke. I do want to give up now.

Non smokers

Laura Williams:

I think it's going to be fab. Sometimes you come home and you have to have a shower before you go to bed to get rid of the smell. It is something that has stopped me coming to pubs in the past. I will definitely come more often to the pub. I think more women will come to the pub now and they will be more family orientated.

Reece Williams:

As a non-smoker I think its great. I won't have to wash my clothes as much. There is nothing worse than going home after you have a had a couple of beers and stinking of smoke.

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