Legal disclaimer

The opinions expressed by the authors on this blog and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Freedom2Choose organisation or any member thereof. Freedom2Choose is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the blog Authors.

Friday, 21 August 2009

DID PUBCOS’ CAUSE THE SMOKING BAN?! By guest writer Tim Paton


and their


to a


In 1998, the Labour Government did a White Paper entitled Smoking Kills’. It contained a section called ‘Clean air’.

For many years, as the smoker population dropped below 50%, public places had begun to provide smoking and non smoking areas. It started gently, then gradually became more widespread. By 1998, the year of the Government White Paper, it was already becoming quite comprehensive. All medical establishments, practically all retail establishments, cinemas, buses, taxis and aeroplanes had become totally non smoking; even trains and the tube had removed their smoking carriages. Many offices, factories, warehouses and other white and blue collar places of work, and of course banks, had also become totally non smoking. This was a voluntary approach, which was respected by the significant minority who still enjoyed the pleasure of tobacco.

In the ‘Clean air’ section of the White Paper, there were examples of the success of this voluntary approach, and an exhortation by the Government for those public places who had not yet introduced this ‘smoke free’ environment to do so. This is why after 1998, many places which had previously had a smoking area dispensed with it and followed the total non smoking trend. Even those who did not go totally smoke free reduced their provision. A good example is the Departure Lounge at Manchester Airport. The small smoking section in the enormous dining area was removed. To enjoy tobacco before a flight, one now had to go to a designated area.

You will have noticed that I have not yet mentioned the Hospitality Trade. Let me deal with restaurants, cafes and coffee establishments first. Up until 1998, many of these places had a smoking section. Again, after this time, a lot were becoming completely non smoking. The only places where one could enjoy tobacco in the mighty Trafford Centre covered retail park were a few tables outside Starbucks or the Wine Bar.

Hotels and Guest Houses/B&B followed suit. Many which had already dispensed with smoking areas in the guest areas now even removed smoking bedrooms.

Bingo Halls still had an area for smoking.

Now I will move on to pubs and clubs.

Public Places Charter

The signatories to this charter were:

Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers
Brewers and Licensed Retailers Association
British Institute of Innkeeping
British Hospitality Association
Restaurant Association

The Government were committed to a voluntary approach to tobacco control. The White Paper suggested signage for establishments to let customers know their smoking policy. The most important thing is that they asked places of hospitality, and I am now concentrating on Pubs and Clubs, to do the following.

Where possible, provide a separate area for the use of tobacco. If large enough premises, in the absence of partition, build one. Lastly, provide state of the art ventilation systems. All of these requests were socially acceptable to both smoker and non smoker.

So what did the pubs and clubs, PUBCOS’ in particular do?

I will look at the few positives first.

Those that served food, if they hadn’t already, removed smoking areas where food was served, (unless they were too small to do so).

Most of the larger establishments banned smoking at the bar.

These larger establishments also had a non smoking area. In my opinion, a bit of forethought would have made the main area non smoking, and at least the same size, not a little token non smoking area tucked away somewhere.

Some, especially clubs, (but not enough), installed up to date ventilation systems. Sale Conservative Club spent a large amount of money doing this, and were quite annoyed when the blanket ban was made law, as they felt they had spent a lot of money unnecessarily. A member of SCC, a non smoker, told me that it is so good that you did not notice whether others were smoking or not!

Now obviously, the small traditional independent pubs may not have been in a financial position to spend out on state of the art ventilation, but at least they could have put signs up outside to let prospective customers know their smoking arrangements, as requested by the White Paper.

What the Pubcos’ didn’t do

I will now mention the majority of Licensed Premises, under the control of the PUBCOS’. What they didn’t do is pathetic. They signed up to a charter in 1998, and proceeded to do as little as possible. Why?

Did they think that if they saved the expense it would just go away?

Did the directors not take it seriously enough, and place more importance on their annual bonus?

Or were they not bothered, thinking that if they were forced to go entirely smoke free everything would be fine?

Whatever the reason, I know one thing. When the anti tobacco lobby began the thrust towards an anti smoker law, the pubs and their lack of smoking policy became the main focus of their attack. Even before their pathetic SHS/place of work argument, Deborah Arnott was attacking the fact that the pubs had not fulfilled their part of the bargain!

If the Pubcos’ had done what they were supposed to do, what they agreed to in 1998, would there have ever been a need for a smoking law.



Anonymous said...


They WANTED a ban

WHY ? Think about it,its quite simple really
This coming winter the pubcos will mount an
all out campaign of price cutting on wet sales
and food led promotions.The objective, to take
custom from the remaining pubs and small
family owned cafes/restaurants.

If anyone really would like to stop the rot
some of us are allready fighting for fair play

Come and join us
.Sunday.......August 30th 2-8 pm.............
..............Painters Arms...................
..............Bradford Rd.....................
..............Drighlington..Sth Bradford......
..............West Yorkshire..................


Mark Wadsworth said...

Maybe the Pubco's thought they could cash in on this (as Anon suggests) but they must rue this by now. I think they are just wimps who sort of hoped it wouldn't happen and were scared of being seen as un-PC and so on.

Anonymous said...

They may have given in because they were afraid of being sued.

"The hospitality trade faces a rising threat of legal action from employees whose health is damaged by secondhand smoke, after a new tie-up between health campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the UK's largest personal injury and trade union law firm Thompsons was announced today."

Smoking conference urges change
Trade publication the Publican is feeling decidedly bruised and sorry for itself as, a result of a smoking in the workplace conference organised by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP).
The Publican claims that the conference, whose purpose was to discuss the impact of passive smoking on employees in pubs and bars, turned into "an assault on the hospitality industry".

The Publican also drew attention to how few representatives from the trade were present - eight compared to over 100 from the medical profession and local authorities. Licking its wounds the Publican reported that the conference only provided one slot for a trade speaker, Peter Linacre, Managing Director of massive Pubs.

Letter to the Publican
"We all need to be forwarned that the next growth area for the legal system will be prosecutions of publicans for not protecting staff from the dangers of ETS.Since April 27 cases have been taken on - this is the start of a tidal wave - in my view"

Curmudgeon said...

I think you're wrong here. Any degree of capitulation to the antismoking agenda would never have been enough. The pub trade provided non-smoking areas to the extent that there was a genuine demand - often some way beyond that.

The hypothesis is essentially victim-blaming - "if she'd dressed more modestly, she wouldn't have been raped."

timbone said...

@Curmudgeon I can see what you are saying, and reading Chris Snowdon's "Velvet Glove Iron Fist" is frightening when you see the build up, and relentless propaganda by the BMJ, BBC, ASH etc. However, if the Pubcos' had fulfilled their promise re the Public Places Charter, they would have had something to back up their opposition to the total ban. They could have stood fast and resisted, like those in other European Countries have done.

Curmudgeon said...

A further point is that the vast majority of PubCo-owned pubs are leaseholds, and surely in those the decision as to whether to provide a non-smoking area is up to the leaseholder, not the owner.

In my experience most managed pubs had non-smoking areas well before the ban and indeed the pubcos went ahead of public demand in providing them.

But what leaseholder was going to provide an extensive non-smoking area when he knew it would lead to him losing business to his competitors and the area standing empty for most of the time?

I am no fan of pubcos, and feel their response to the ban was particularly spineless and shortsighted, but it is stretching things much too far to attach any significant blame to them for it.

timbone said...

As Hamish Howitt pointed out, there were many landlords who wish they could have protested and even caused civil disobedience like Hamish did, but their hands were tied. Tenants of pubs which come under the umbrella of the big pubcos are subject to restrictions, even though they have to pay their own way they are not independant. Many of them did not receive financial support for fully implementing the Charter.
OK, my statement may be a bit strong, but I think that the Pubcos are more responsible for the severity of the ban than some people think. I know that the anti smoking machine is a huge, ruthless animal. Never smokers at the top of things like the media and the Pubcos have no empathy whatsoever. If the Pubcos had strongly resisted the blanket ban proposals, even having the courage to threaten non complience on behalf of their smoking customers, things may have been different. They may have slowed down the anti smoking machinations a bit, giving more time for the SHS fiasco to be exposed.
I am livid that the hospitality trade and camra cannot see the elephant in the room, or worse still, they can but are too damn weak to blame the majority of devastation in pubs, clubs and bingo on it's true cause.
The lowest common denominator is that the whole anti smoking movement is probably based on the fact that there are intolerant, selfish people who just don't like people smoking. said...

great blog keep up the good work

opinions powered by


Related Posts with Thumbnails

Pages on this blog