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It's time to fight the fug

08 September 2005
It's time to fight the fug

Are you worried about losing customers if they can't have a fag in your restaurant? What about the pubs in Ireland that closed after smoking was banned? There are plenty of rumours about how smoke-free legislation will hit the hospitality industry in England in 2009. But what are the facts?

Every country that banned lighting-up endured predictions of financial doom and gloom. They were all unfounded. According to Ireland's national employment agency Fs, there were 600 more bar staff employed in Ireland in the third quarter of 2004, six months after the ban came in. And although official figures put Irish pub sales down by 3.5%, the figure was in line with trend - the result of rising beer prices and changing social habits.

In New York, profits rose 8.7% and 10,600 jobs were created in bars and restaurants after the city went smoke-free. New customers undoubtedly helped buoy the sector. Many non-smokers avoid pubs and restaurants because they can't stand the fug. A recent survey by market research group BMRB found that 87% of people would use bars and restaurants as often, or more often, if smoking were banned.

The reverse isn't true. Smoking customers are not more likely to stay at home if a ban comes in. Smokers still go to the cinema and theatre and travel on planes. About 70% want to quit and kicking the habit is easier if they can't smoke in public places.

More than 600 people die every year as a result of exposure to second-hand smoke at work, nearly three times the number in all other industrial accidents combined.

The UK Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health described second-hand smoke as "a substantial public hazard". And the late Professor Sir Richard Doll, the scientist who first linked smoking and lung cancer, said: "An hour a day in a room with a smoker is nearly 100 times more likely to cause lung cancer in a non-smoker than 20 years spent in a building containing asbestos." Hospitality workers spend considerably longer than an hour a day in a room with smokers.

The Government's new legislation will protect people from exposure to toxins at work. Why should it be any different for staff in pubs, bars and private members clubs? Waiters and bar staff are not immune to the dangers of second-hand smoke. And if you're the owner, why would you want to put your own health at risk too?

To find out more about the effect of passive smoking, visit:

Over to you

John Hutson, chief executive, JD Wetherspoon

"It would be healthier for the sector, because customers would have clarity. Common sense means that if customers understand, everyone would benefit."

Craig Turner, mananger, the Blue Lion, East Witton, North Yorkshire

"As a smoker, I wouldn't like to see a complete ban. I think there should be freedom of choice, and if people smoke in a pub they should be allowed to. However, I think a ban, such as in Ireland, is inevitable."

Jonathan Lister, owner, the Duke's Head, Wokingham, Berkshire

"The vast majority of our customers smoke and I think an outright ban could damage the industry an awful lot. I agree that there should be a smoking ban in eateries, but as far as bars and pubs go there must be a compromise and an area where people can smoke."

Joanne Goff, proprietor, Middleton Arms, Middleton, North Yorkshire

"We recently took over the only non-smoking pub in North Yorkshire. And our customers' main concern wasn't whether we would keep the same menu as before but whether we would keep the pub non-smoking. We're definitely making a profit because of the ban."

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