Chris Maclean: smoke free signals

By Chris Maclean

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Smoking, Investment, Olfaction

The third week of the smoking ban and things seem tranquil enough. It is pretty clear to me that there was a significant downturn in the first week....

The third week of the smoking ban and things seem tranquil enough. It is pretty clear to me that there was a significant downturn in the first week. I've not worked out the percentages (I hate figures) but 'significant' does seems appropriate.

But we seem to have adjusted to the whole process remarkably smoothly. Yes, there will be those out there who steadfastly refuse to give up their right to smoke and those licensees who are itching for a fight. But generally things are calm.

Last week in France, standing in a bar, a customer next to me light his cigarette. I was shocked. Then realised it was perfectly legal for him to do so. How quickly we have adjusted. I don't like to use the word but it now appears 'normal' not to have smoking in the pub.

Certainly there are customers here who are enjoying their new found freedom although I am clamping down on any displays of smugness. And there are newer, unsavoury smells emerging. Some are very noticeable. I may have to buy some people some deodorant. Locally I understand a nightclub is introducing the smell of freshly cut grass to mask unpleasant odours.

But most interestingly it is the change of behaviour of the remaining smokers. As I have stated before, I have not invested in smoking shelters or indeed any smoking provision. I am watching how people respond very closely. And they are not doing what I expected. They are going to areas I hadn't foreseen and this will bring additional problems. Friday afternoons, for example, there is a large group who, if the weather is fine, assemble in the front area of the pub by the junction. This makes it a little more difficult to control. I could have a problem if others, with alcohol from the supermarket around the corner, join them and I am conscious of an increasing noise issue as customers call out to drivers going past and drivers show off and sound their horns.

I am reassured that I haven't rushed into investing large amounts in anticipation of the ban. I've seen several expensive shelters languish unused whilst customers smoke in places they prefer. And I will invest cautiously and prudently as demand requires.

But throughout this process I am aware that the real impact of the ban may not be fully apparent for very many months yet.

Related topics: Legislation

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