There's A Reason We Have Ashtrays...

By Mark Daniels

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Smoking ban, Smokers, Smoking

Mark Daniels: Would support a repeal of the smoking ban
Mark Daniels: Would support a repeal of the smoking ban
Licensee Mark Daniels would vote for a repeal of the smoking ban so he can spend more time playing on his PlayStation and less time picking fag ends out of his pansies.

I'm a lifelong non-smoker, but I have no problem with smokers: I was born in the North East in the Seventies when it was pretty much de rigeur that you had a cigarette in your mouth.

Both my parents smoked, my brother smoked, most of my family around me smoked. The children I went to school with laughed at me for not smoking when they hid behind the bike sheds. My wife used to smoke and when, as a younger man, my colleagues went to the smoking room for their fifteen-minute-each-hour-smoking-break I went with them, arguing in the way only a nineteen-year-old can that if they could leave their desks for twenty five percent of their working day, so could I.

Despite the fact that the comforting smell of a Benson & Hedges being lit meant, as a kid, that my Dad had got home from a gig, I have never felt the urge to light up myself.

Still, I quite fancy that Sheridan Smith who, by her own Twitter admission, is a 'fag hag'. And I was always happy to join my mates in a smokey pub for a few drinks after work

When it came to buying into my pub, I did so in the full knowledge that its main trade came from the smoking/drinking set.

It's four years since the ban was introduced and, as ever at this time of year, stories about the damage the ban has done to the trade are trotted out and groups go on the rampage in the hopes of getting it lifted.

I always support those who argue for changes in the law against smoking in pubs, but am not foolish enough to think that repealing the ban will result in the masses returning to the pubs - they won't. And would it be fair to only repeal the ban for pubs? No, restaurants and bingo halls, shopping centres and the back seats of buses would all start arguing their case for letting smokers back in and that'll open a whole other can of worms.

People's habits have changed and it will be pretty difficult to get them to give up their Saturday night Ants & Decs and multi-deal lager boxes from Lidl, but a sensible re-evaluation of the smoking laws is definitely in order.

Hear me out, because I do have a problem with smokers, and it's a big one. And it's all to do with ashtrays.

When smoking was allowed in pubs, everybody carefully kept their cigarettes in the direct line of an ashtray. Rarely was ash flicked outside of this sacred area and all butts would end up in the ashtray. This meant that cleaning up was easy and that the outside areas of the pub were always tidy. The ashtray was a staple piece of furniture adorning every table.

Now, however, smokers are forced to go outside. They don't really want to be there which has had a negative effect on the trade of predominately rural or wet-led establishments.

But it also means that smokers who, when indoors would use an ashtray, outdoors seem oblivious to its existence. Cigarette butts get dropped on the floor, discarded in flower troughs and generally littered over the pavement. In winter, some may challenge the ban by sneakily smoking in the toilets when they think nobody will grass on them, but I can tell you this: a discarded cigarette butt is as unflushable as a used condom...

Despite ashtrays being placed on all tables and in prominent places throughout the garden, customers seem to think they are only there to dispose chewing gum in before lighting up the next cigarette.

"I hate people who don't use the ashtrays," one customer mused, empathising with me over the issue before going outside and flicking his cigarette in to the middle of the road when he had finished.

It leads to a constant battle between me and the village parish council, who aren't always happy if I forget to go out and clean up after the smokers.

To top it off, if I do challenge the smokers on why they haven't used the appropriate receptacle for their habit they often point out that there isn't an ashtray on the table. This is usually down to the fact that a non-smoker has used the beer garden and has hidden the offensive, empty ashtray from their table under a lavender bush.

So there you have it. I vote for a repeal of the smoking ban so that I can spend more time playing on my PlayStation and less time picking fag ends out of the pansies.

Mark Daniels is the licensee at the Tharp Arms in Chippenham, Cambridgeshire

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