A city wide consultation by Brighton and Hove council could extend the existing smoking ban to outdoor public areas, making the area outside pubs and restaurants smoke free.
An online questionnaire asks Brighton residents and business owners whether they would visit areas such as Brighton beach, parks and pubs with outdoor seating more frequently if they were non-smoking.
Councillor Dan Yates said: “Currently the inside of pubs and restaurants are legally smoke-free but not outside areas. We would certainly not be looking at any additional compulsory smoking restrictions to business, other than the existing smoking ban.
“But depending on the results of the consultation, we may want to work with business to encourage smoke-free outdoor areas on a voluntary basis.”
Simon Walker, operations director of the Laine Pub Company, who started in Brighton, said the consultation raised serious questions for operators.
“It’s too early to have a concrete opinion right now, but my gut feeling is that it’s not a good thing for the thriving night time economy that is so important to the city. Having driven the smoker out of the pub and into the street, we don’t want to then force them into their home. There are, of course, questions around enforcement. Would it be up to the pubs to enforce this, or the police? At what point does it become a problem for the licensee? In the beer garden? Outside the pub? Down the street? Right now there are too many unknowns to have a balanced opinion but from what we know it doesn’t seem like a good thing for us.”
An irate Brighton resident added: “Brighton residents – myself included – often speak amicably of the city’s liberal attitude and vibrant nightlife. This news however, comes as a bit of a slap in the face. As much as the council may not like it, lots of people like to have a smoke with their drink and there is no reason why they shouldn’t be able to do outside their local pub.”
It has been eight years since the smoking ban was introduced in England, but two recent surveys from Populus and smokers’ rights group Forest suggested around half of adults were in favour of allowing pubs to operate designated smoking rooms.
Chris Snowdon, director of lifestyle economics at the Institute of Economic Affairs, relaxing the smoking ban ‘would do more to revive British pubs more than any other policy.”