TOTAL SMOKE BAN
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
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.
DID THE PUBCOS’ CAUSE THE SMOKING BAN?!