Pete Robinson: Herne Bay pub goers saved by smoking

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Related tags: Smoking, Public house

Not the customers of Herne Bay's Queen Vic pub, which dates back to the 1870s. They were all outside having a crafty fag when the pub's heavy ceiling...

Not the customers of Herne Bay's Queen Vic pub, which dates back to the 1870s. They were all outside having a crafty fag when the pub's heavy ceiling collapsed.

The landlord of the pub, Gerry Jones, heard a loud rumbling noise before discovering to his horror that a huge part of the ceiling had fallen to the floor. Debris was completely engulfing the pool table area where customers had been enjoying a game just minutes before.

He said: "Had they carried on playing they could have been seriously hurt. Even though the ceiling has been redone, the plaster is quite old and very heavy. I just thank God nobody was hurt."

Needless to say there were no non-smokers in the pub. Which begs the question, where are all these thronging hoards of non-smokers we were promised would be beating a path to our pubs after July 1st? After all it was 91% of them who, when surveyed, supposedly said they'd be using pubs after the smoking ban came into force. By my calculations that means OVER 18 MILLION 'new' non-smoking customers through the doors (ye gads, no wonder the pubcos seemed so pleased!)

So where ARE they? The answer perhaps lies in the wording of pro-ban opinion polls commissioned by ASH et al. "Likely" and "intending" does not mean actually going out to pubs, nor does "taking air quality into consideration when choosing a pub". Not when you don't use pubs anyway.

But look closely into the statistics used to arrive at that 91% 'new customer' figure and you'll find something interesting. A whopping 76% of them said that post-ban they'd be using pubs "about the same as nowadays" - i.e. not at all.

See how it works? Clever stuff if you can get away with it. And they have.

Related topics: Legislation

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