An exclusive survey of the Publican’s Morning Advertiser readership revealed 68.3% either agree or strongly agree that pubs should be permitted to have separate smoking rooms, in line with some European countries. Furthermore, six out of 10 felt there should be designated smoking and non-smoking bars.
However, there was less appetite for a full repeal of the ban. Just four in 10 respondents agreed it should be scrapped.
But both the industry’s leading trade bodies admitted there was little chance of the Government amending the ban, and pubs would be better focusing their energies on more winnable battles.
British Beer & Pub Association chief executive Brigid Simmonds said it wasn’t surprising that many publicans would like to see the ban modified.
“But with little prospect of Parliament moving in this direction, it makes it all the more important that we keep the pressure up on the other issues that are placing such an unacceptable burden on pubs, such as red tape and the beer-tax escalator,” she added.
Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, said the smoking ban was the single biggest challenge the trade had faced over the past decade, but warned against trying to turn the clock back.
“We need to be careful what we wish for — starting a debate on smoking rooms does not mean it will end there and would inevitably re-open discussions about restrictions in beer gardens, and no-smoking anywhere near the premises. That would turn customers off and the trade away,” he said.
Pro-smoking lobby group Forest called for a comprehensive review of the ban and demanded the Government amend the legislation to allow separate, well-ventilated smoking rooms in pubs and clubs.
A Department of Health spokesman said that there were no plans to review the legislation.
A full analysis of the survey results will appear in 5 July issue.