The anti-smoking ban campaign group, Save our Pubs and Clubs are holding a competition to find the pub with the best smoking area. I can think of a few, but the ones I like best are, I believe, a little in breach of the law so perhaps, in their interests I will hold my peace.
Pubs that have managed to carry on creating a hospitable environment for smokers are, in a certain sense, accomodating to the ban, but they are also resisting it. This is because the ban was not really about passive smoking but, rather about making smoking a more uncomfortable experience so as to push people into stopping.
One thing you will find these days is that politicians of all stripes will profess their desire to support pubs. Doing so is good politics. It’s a nod to British tradition, and to (understandable) nostalgia for a more communitarian epoch. But we are entitled to ask what kinds of pubs they wish to support. Judged by their policy, the political class seem to approve of pubs only insofar as they don’t let anyone smoke, don’t get too noisy and don’t encourage too much drinking. In other words, pubs transmogrified into beer serving starbucks outlets are what they are willing to support. And this is hardly the kind of environnent that will induce people to pay a premium over the prices in ASDA – and so its no surprise that for all the verbal publoving from our politicians, the industry is still in decline. If we want to save our pubs and clubs then we cannot simulltaneously dragoon them into being part of the public health set up.
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