Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Beer garden smoking ban

The Barbacoa is an established restaurant in Crosby that usually serves one guest real ale. It has taken the step of banning smoking from its beer garden, an action that the local paper claims is a first in the country, although how they'd know is anyone's guess. A separate smoking area has been created elsewhere for smokers. The ban was the result of customer feedback, not political correctness gone mad, busybody interfering or nanny statism. Apparently, customers didn't like the fact that they couldn't go out in the sunshine without encountering smoke. The move has earned them a Clean Air Award from the lung cancer charity, the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

I suspect this ban may only be the first of many. It has been clear to me since before the smoking ban first came in that some people felt they now had the smokers on the run. I wrote about this kind of attitude in my post, the Lost World of Smoking: while I was definitely not writing about the smoking ban, I reported that when my employer had brought in smoking rooms, thus making the office smoke-free, some non-smokers wanted me as the union rep to take things further. I wasn't prepared to because the arrangements were in accordance with both the employer's and the union's policies, and my personal view that having clean air was well worth the small price of losing smokers for short smoking breaks didn't go down well. I feel that it was probably a similar attitude that drove the customers of the Barbacoa to press for a smoke-free beer garden.

I jokingly refer to the beer garden at my local as 'the smoking room', but I'm quite happy to sit out there and don't find myself "quickly enveloped by a Magnitogorsk-like fug of carcinogens", to use the words of a BBC writer (link below). I doubt there will more legislation in the near future to extend the smoking ban; I think it more likely we will have piecemeal erosion of people's entitlement to smoke, as has happened in the Barbacoa.

I've just typed 'smoke beer garden' in a search engine and came up with this item from the Daily Mail in 2012, and this from the BBC a year ago. Both support, perhaps unintentionally, the points I've made.


  1. It's the licensee';s choice, just as it should be inside the pub too.

  2. You've painted yourself into a corner there, Curmudgeon, with your insistence upon licensee's choice:
    > Laws banning smoking bad.
    > All other bans good, even if dictated to licensees by vocal non-smokers.

    Your approach will do nothing to prevent the piecemeal spread of bans. In time, if enough places ban smoking outside, there will be pressure to extend the law to an increasing range of open spaces, particularly perhaps where there are children. The ban on smoking in cars with children - in my view, quite sensible - is an example of the laws on smoking going in the opposite way to what you want.

    Licensee's choice is yesterday's argument. It doesn't address current threats to people's entitlement to smoke. It's no skin off my nose, of course, but this is how I see the smoking issue going.

  3. And the same template will then be applied to alcohol - but sadly many people are too short-sighted and selfish to appreciate that.

  4. I think you underestimate people's intelligence. A lot of people I know, both drinkers and licensees, are well aware of the risks, but feeling powerless is neither short-sighted nor selfish.

  5. But if someone cheers on the war against smokers in the full knowledge that the guns will be turned on them next, then they really deserve a prize for short-sighted stupidity.

    Have you seen this - the tobacco template explicitly applied to alcohol?

  6. Curmudgeon - health campaigners applying the lessons from the smoking ban to drink was the subject of a workshop I attended at the 2008 CAMRA AGM in Cardiff. I subsequently wrote about it on a blog, and 'revered' blogger Stonch took the mick out me and wrote "Strawman alert!"

    Just shows what he knew!

    I think you'll observe that I wasn't particularly cheering in my post about the Barbacoa, although I accept that there are some who will not make the connection between the smoking ban and anti-alcohol campaigning.


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