Pubs have been warned to expect more wide ranging licensing challenges from councils after a groundbreaking case saw a Hertfordshire publican ordered to refuse to serve customers who smoke on the street outside the pub.
Janis Harmer, who runs the Horse & Jockey pub in Ross-on-Wye, must now have signs to that effect at the entrance and street facing windows as a new condition of the licence. The conditions were imposed at a council review after a local resident complained about the noise from within and outside the Punch Taverns-owned pub.
Although Harmer said the decision was "a big relief", as she feared losing her licence completely, lawyers warned the case could lead to further headaches for the pub trade.
Graeme Cushion, partner and head of regulatory crime at solicitors Poppleston Allen, said that the case was groundbreaking in the sense that it was an attempt to "govern behaviour which is not licensable as it takes place outside".
"I imagine the licensing committee saw smoking outside as being inextricably linked with licensing activity so it felt it was fine to deal with the issue," he told Caterersearch. "Although one licensing committee's decision is not binding on another, the fact that it has been publicised will undoubtedly lead to others doing the same sort of thing.
"This could well impact the pub trade further, as people who would have previously popped in for a couple of pints and a few cigarettes might think twice."
Since the smoking ban came into effect in July 2007, there has been an increase in complaints from neighbours over the noise from smokers, as well as claims that smoke infiltrates their houses and gardens. In a recent case, the Endurance pub in London's Soho was forced to ban outdoor drinking after 6pm due to the complaints of three local residents.
By Gemma Sharkey
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