I've just been to Southend-on-Sea for a couple of days for a family occasion. I managed to get to three pubs, all on the front, but like most pubs on sea fronts, they weren't anything to get excited about. The best pint I had was Shepherd Neame Spitfire, and that wasn't quite cool enough.
I was sitting outside one of these pubs among the smokers and noticed a strange phenomenon. Although every single table had an ashtray, most smokers simply threw their cigarettes away without stubbing them out or looking where they were throwing them. The ashtrays weren't much used, but the ground in front of the pub and the adjacent pavement were littered with cigarette ends. While an accident is unlikely, it's not impossible. When I was a baby, the blanket in my pram began smouldering while I was in it because of a discarded cigarette; it was my sister who raised the alarm before I was injured. The London Fire Brigade says that "the fires caused by smoking materials ... result in more deaths than any other type of fire." The main problem in this situation, though, was that the place looked so unsightly, and I expect some people would be put off entering.
When people behave like this, it's hardly surprising that there are demands for the smoking ban to be extended. I don't particularly want the current ban changed, but such selfish and unnecessary behaviour will give ammunition to those who do.
North Downs Way - Wye to Chartham
10 hours ago