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JD Wetherspoon to open two non-smoking pubs

11 January 2005 by

JD Wetherspoon is to open two non-smoking pubs ahead of the planned 2008 government ban.

The no-frills operator will open a Lloyds No1 in Exeter on 16 January and a smoke-free Wetherspoon's will follow on 21 March in Swindon.

Non-executive chairman Tim Martin said: "The ban is indefinite. We will only reconsider if there is a very large backlash, which I am not anticipating."

The 650-strong chain, which has already made a third of its overall customer area non-smoking, believes that the inevitability of the 2008 smoking ban is growing.

Martin said: "The government's intentions have become clearer recently. There has been an acceleration in the worldwide trend. New Zealand has introduced a ban and Italy did the same a couple of days ago."

The Watford-based group believes that smoke-free pubs could bring in new customers. "The effect may well be to encourage more diners and deter certain drinkers," said Martin. "Studies have shown that when some people go to the pub for a drink, they are actually going there to smoke."

He added: "If successful, other cities may go the same route."

by Tom Bill

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