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Mike Bell The smoke ban could be a blessing for pubs if licensees are prepared to go with the flow, says the licensee of West London's Portobello...

Mike Bell

The smoke ban could be a blessing for pubs if licensees are prepared to go with the flow, says the licensee of West London's Portobello Gold

I see the Daily Mail hasn't stopped its barrage of "24-hour drinking" articles. We're fortunate in our neck of West London that we don't tend to suffer from the bingeing culture - probably because there is a lot more for young people to do - and, above all, more money to do it with.

And London's West End, which tends to attract the "out-of-towners", offers much more than other city-centres.

So, although I may not know what I'm talking about, I think something positive could emerge from the

smoking ban.

Here are my theories (and hopes) that might lead to a possible long-term decline of

bingeing in England:

1 Nibble more. Tobacco, like most addictive drugs, suppresses appetite. The less we smoke, the more we snack - the more we snack, the less likely we are to get drunk.

2 Free snacks. If only to stop the punters getting out of their heads and to stop them moving on, some pubs might learn to give away snacks.

3 Provide a water chaser. Free water should always be available in pubs and given with strong beers (remember: if the only liquid in front of you is alcohol, you're ****ed).

4 Keep moving. In many

landlocked urban vertical- drinking outlets you can't pop outside for a fag and expect to come back right away if there's a queue. More kids may move on to the next pub, smoking as they go.

5 Curb supermarket hours. We still face the paradox of being unable to buy a bottle of wine at 11am on a Sunday - yet do we really need to be able to buy a six-pack at 2am in an all-night Tesco?

Finally, to help cut ciggy cravings, some clever new non-addictive prescription drugs - soon to be available in bars - can fool our brains.

For our part, we are

offering snuff, Perique tobacco liqueur and tobacco custard with apple crumble!

So that's sorted the binge- drinking culture, supermarket uncompetitiveness and the smoking ban in one "swell foop". Hic. Comments to mike@portobellogold.com

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