Hotel franchisor Golden Tulip has become the latest hospitality firm to jump on the no-smoking bandwagon, with plans to turn three of its Tulip Inns into smoke-free hotels.
The Newcastle Gateshead Tulip Inn, due to open in October, will be the chain's first no-smoking hotel, followed by Tulip Inns in Portsmouth and Castleford, West Yorkshire.
If successful, the experiment is likely to be a precursor to the policy being expanded across the company.
Golden Tulip's move follows the lead set by operators such as the Laurel Pub Company and Pizza Hut in either banning smoking altogether, or making some establishments smoke-fee.
|Tulip Inn Portsmouth|
The hospitality sector is bracing itself for the possibility of the Government moving to announce some form of legislation in the summer, banning smoking in public places as part of its public health white paper.
This could take the form of giving local authorities the power to act unilaterally, a move that many in the industry fear will be a recipe for confusion.
Up to now the Government has preferred to stick with the voluntary approach, but the success of Ireland's decision to ban public smoking appears to have given the debate added impetus.
Surveys are also continuing to show public backing for such a move. A recent study by anti-smoking lobby group Action on Smoking and Health found 80% of people polled supported a change in the law to make all enclosed workplaces smoke free.
Trevor Lake, Golden Tulip managing director - operations, said: "There is clearly a trend in this industry towards creating more smoke-free environments and, this year alone, we have seen major restrictions enforced in Ireland, Norway and the Netherlands.
"We are committed to providing a pleasant environment for both our employees and customers. Following the trial period, we will look closely at extending the policy to our existing hotels," he added.
Under the pilot scheme, smoking will still be possible in selected bedrooms, but the ratio of such rooms will be reduced to 25%, to correspond with the current ratio of UK smokers, said the firm.
by Nic Paton
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