The tube drinking ban won’t work


11:18 am - June 3rd 2008

by Janine    


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My contract of employment obliges me to point out whenever I express an opinion about the Tube that these opinions are my own, and should in no way be taken to represent those of London Underground or TfL. So now you know.

A century ago, there were feminists who called for alcohol to be banned because they blamed it for domestic violence. Their view was understandable, as women took regular beatings from men who came home drunk, then as now. It took Prohibition to change their minds, as booze was banned but domestic violence continued.

In 2008, Boris Johnson thinks that banning booze will prevent, or at least reduce, bad behaviour on London’s transport. He too is mistaken, and his motives may not be as worthy or understandable as the early twentieth century feminists. He was on a yacht when the booze ban came into force on Saturday night, which, being neither in London nor a form of public transport, was exempted.

He has noticeably not called for the banning of alcohol at the Henley Regatta, which, after all, might piss off one or two of his constituents – popping the cork and letting the bubbly flow is part of the event darling, and you’d never catch a Hooray Henry misbehaving under the influence now, would you?

The relationship between booze and bad behaviour is more complex than a simple ban implies. Does alcohol cause aggression, or are people who feel aggressive anyway more inclined to drink? Perhaps aggression and violence fuel each other – but only in some people, not others. Boris’ ban is not on disorderly or aggressive behaviour but on drinking alcohol or carrying open containers of alcohol.

So someone who is behaving like a tosser, but not in possession of an open can whilst travelling – perhaps having got well and truly tanked up before setting off home – would not be covered by the ban; but on the other hand, a person behaving impeccably and sipping from a can or bottle while minding their own business would fall foul of the new rule.

Those of us who work on the Tube have been dealing with boozy passengers for years. Most are good-natured, some provide us with a right laugh (I particularly remember the pair who missed the last Central line train home because they sat on the station stairs thinking they were in the carriage). I’m always rather pleased that they are travelling on the Tube, rather than driving.

Some, however, can be a problem (as can some sober people). You do get assaults on staff. You do end up calling ambulances when drunk people topple down the escalators. They can be hard work. And the cleaners get the worst deal of all – clearing up cans, spillages and vomit, all on poverty wages that Boris Johnson wouldn’t get out of bed for.

But Tube staff have never called for this to be dealt with by banning drinking.

Even if you supported the ban, the way it has been brought in is appalling. I for one do not recall Boris Johnson saying he would do this during his election campaign – it might have cost him votes, after all. Then he announces it days after being elected, imposes it a month later, and expects things to go smoothly! As if. There was no consultation with the trade unions, no extra staff on duty on the night it came in, and a promise of police back-up that was laughable.

Personally, I oppose the ban. And I support people’s right to protest against it. But none of this excuses some of the behaviour on Saturday night when Tube workers were assaulted, abused and spat at. Anyone who thinks that’s a good way to defend freedom and oppose Mayor Johnson should go home and sleep it off.

And when you wake up with a hangover, think about the cleaners wading through broken glass to mop up the booze, vomit and piss.

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About the author
This is a guest post. Janine works for London Underground and is a regular contributor to Stroppyblog.
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Reader comments


“I for one do not recall Boris Johnson saying he would do this during his election campaign – it might have cost him votes, after all.”

To be fair, he did – various bloggers picked up on it before the election as an obvious sign that the Tories are just as pro-pointless-banning-things as Labour, although the mass media largely ignored it.

“none of this excuses some of the behaviour on Saturday night when Tube workers were assaulted, abused and spat at.”

Aye, although note that the ratio between people peacefully partying against the authoritarians vs idiots abusing tube staff was in the region of 10,000:1, and the presence of thousands of pissed-up rugger buggers in London on the same night wasn’t necessarily helpful either (indeed, it’d be interesting to see whether the incidence of assault and vandalism was any greater than a normal Saturday night…)

Drinking on public transport is banned in many other cities in the UK. Have you been actively campaigning to get this situation changed?

Not personally, because I don’t live in many other cities in the UK (none, in fact).

4. John Meredith

“Drinking on public transport is banned in many other cities in the UK. Have you been actively campaigning to get this situation changed?”

It’s also banned on all coaches and taxis, isn’t it? I think it is even illegal in private cars unless there is some sort of divide between the drinking passenger and the driver. Might be muddled about that though. Amazing how uptight people are getting about this. Boris obviously intended it a a signal. Where was the protest when the genuinely illiberal smoking ban went into place?

“It’s also banned on all coaches and taxis, isn’t it?”

No idea about taxis (although nearly all taxis I’ve seen ban the consumption of all food and drink anyway). It’s not legally banned on coaches, except on the way to football matches – National Express has chosen to have its coaches as ‘dry’, but that’s the choice of a private business.

[in my student days I remember drinking on the Oxford Tube coach service every time we headed down to London – if it was banned, that wasn’t publicised and nobody ever asked us to stop…]

“I think it is even illegal in private cars unless there is some sort of divide between the drinking passenger and the driver.”

No, it isn’t. You’ve been spending too much time in the US, it would appear; presumably this explains your knee-jerk puritanism and alcohol aversion…

The smoking ban wasn’t illiberal, can we get over that already?

Oh, and “Where was the protest when the genuinely illiberal smoking ban went into place?”

1) definition of classical liberal: “someone who’d permit individuals to do anything to themselves as long as it doesn’t harm others”

2) me on train drinking beer: nobody else hurt or impacted in any way

3) me in public place smoking fags: other people hurt and impacted in certain ways (asthma aggravated in short term, cancer risks elevated in longer term).

Hence, banning 2 is illiberal and banning 3 is not…

How the hell was the smoking ban illiberal? I love the fact that I can now go out and not come back stinking of smoke.

Though I largely agree that the actions of those who left crap everywhere or assaulted staff on that night is bad – the tube crawl was, in the end, one of the things I love about London. Its a chaotic city, drinking runs in our blood and so does the Tube. Most people had a good time and it was left at that. A minority kicked off, and the way the media has made this into such a massive moral outrage makes me even adamant in saying the tube crawl was broadly the right thing to do and Boris is a twat.

9. John Meredith

“How the hell was the smoking ban illiberal? ”

Because it introduced a ban on a legal non-commercial activity on private property. Classically illiberal I would have thought. The Tube, of course, is a public utility and so I think it is perfectly reasonable to ban smoking and/or drinking if the management think it will improve the service.

“3) me in public place smoking fags: other people hurt and impacted in certain ways (asthma aggravated in short term, cancer risks elevated in longer term).Hence, banning 2 is illiberal and banning 3 is not…”

See above. Pubs and nightclubs are not public places (I know some find the nomenclature confusing). That is how it is possible for a private individual to say meaningfully, ‘I own a pub’.

10. John Meredith

“presumably this explains your … alcohol aversion…”

I wish.

11. Matt Munro

john B – but what is defined as “harm” is generally expressed in law and purchasing tobacco is not illegal, it therefore IS illiberal to restrict it’s use in public, unless it is completely criminalised. The common sense approach -which would also have passed the “harm” test – would be to have smoking and non-smoking pubs.

Sunny -You could argue that anything which has an impact on your health creates a potential future liability on the NHS and therefore harms all taxpayers in terms of oportunity cost. This is certainly one of the arguments used by health fascists against smokers, andis the governments justification for constant lifestyle nagging.

“Because it introduced a ban on a legal non-commercial activity on private property. Classically illiberal I would have thought. ”

You think wrong and short sighted. Perhaps you also think it is classically liberal for a private property to fill its premises full of toxic nerve gas?

13. John Meredith

“it therefore IS illiberal to restrict it’s use in public, unless it is completely criminalised”

No it isn’t. But (as I bang on about above) pubs are not public places. A publican can ban you without giving any reason, or he can demand that you dress in a certain way or that you can only come in on Wednesdays, because it is his gaff, his rules.

14. John Meredith

“You think wrong and short sighted. Perhaps you also think it is classically liberal for a private property to fill its premises full of toxic nerve gas?”

If I wish to fill a private property with toxic nerve gas, and ownership of that nerve gas is legal, why should I not do it in my own place (so long as the gases do not leak and nobody who doesn’t choose to be is harmed etc, etc).

Matt: As with my reply to John, there are plenty of things that you can legally do that you’re not allowed to do in certain circumstances. It is legal to drink, for instance, but not to drive while drunk. This is perhaps also illiberal to you?

“If I wish to fill a private property with toxic nerve gas, and ownership of that nerve gas is legal, why should I not do it in my own place (so long as the gases do not leak and nobody who doesn’t choose to be is harmed etc, etc).”

Right, now imagine a scenario where every private property within a certain sector decides it would hurt their profits to not fill their venue with toxic nerve gas, so that it is practically impossible to enjoy that sector without submitting yourself to toxic nerve gas. This is still liberal behaviour?

17. John Meredith

Lee, you miss the point. Drink driving is banned, because it causes a danger to others. Smoking only endangers me, which is why I can or should be able to choose to do it or not in private places. To support the smoking ban but to get your knickers in a twist at the Tube booze ban is hilariously wrong-headed.

18. John Meredith

Lee, your analogies are getting too lurid to be useful. Here’s a better one: loud misc causes hearing damage. But what if every business in a sector (say, the techno dance nightclub sector) plays its music so loud that I can’t stand it. Should I have to put up with that or should legislation be introduced to make them drop the volume?

I don’t miss the point John, you are not taking in to account that to not ban smoking as it was you are essentially saying that people have to choose between health risks or making a choice to forgo a social activity. It is not, and never can be, claimed to be liberal to deny a swathe of the population an activity that is legal to them without asking them to accept some form of associated health risk. You hide behind this “private premises” bollocks while completely ignoring the fact they have to be licensed to sell alcohol, allow gambling, or whatever. The fact that they are premises that require government permission to run kind of means it’s not a simple case of “private ownership making the choices”

It is also short sighted because it means the second option for those that want to drink but can’t go to the pub because of their impressions over second hand smoke will instead be drinking cheaper alcohol and potentially only on their own, two factors that are much more dangerous in the scheme of alcohol consumption than “going down to your local”. In two senses therefore the smoking ban was perfectly liberal and entirely positive legislation.

Now the tube booze ban on the other hand…what’s that based upon? Where is the evidence that alcohol consumption increases violence on the tube? An empirical study that is that shows through randomised testing that it is the alcohol specifically and not the state of mind of the passengers, the population of carriages, the time of the day, the heat, and any other variety of other factors that can cause aggression. There is none, it’s just part of a bullshit raft of policies MPs are coming up with to appear to be dealing with “yobs” and to make people feel safe.

But to be perfectly honest if you can sit there with a straight face and say smoking only endangers you then it’s probably a waste of time talking to you.

“Lee, your analogies are getting too lurid to be useful. Here’s a better one: loud misc causes hearing damage. But what if every business in a sector (say, the techno dance nightclub sector) plays its music so loud that I can’t stand it. Should I have to put up with that or should legislation be introduced to make them drop the volume?”

Legislation does exist to make you drop the volume, and it’s evolving all the time to confer safety to the general public. Perhaps you should read up on the facts before trying to make a spurious point?

21. John Meredith

“you are not taking in to account that to not ban smoking as it was you are essentially saying that people have to choose between health risks or making a choice to forgo a social activity”

Yep, that is how it is in a liberal society. YOU choose what is best for you. not the guvmint. And You don’t get to decide what I can do, just because you would prefer I didn’t. That is why the smoking ban was illiberal. You can see it, but because it is the sort of iliberalism that benefits you, you don’t want to say it.

I can’t see it John, and I find it hilarious you think it is ok and “liberal”, in theory, for no goods or services to be accessible to you unless you’re willing to compromise your own health.

It reminds me of a line out of one of the more recent Terry pratchet books actually. The Patrician tells the hero of the story that he can either work for him or he can leave this room a free man…where he will be hunted down relentlessly by a golem until he’s dead. Our hero states that he doesn’t have much choice then does he, but the Patrician makes it clear…there is very definitely a choice, two options thus a choice.

24. John Meredith

“I can’t see it John, and I find it hilarious you think it is ok and “liberal”, in theory, for no goods or services to be accessible to you unless you’re willing to compromise your own health.”

The reductio ad absurdum doesn’t help you. There were plenty of goods and services available to non-smokers, including bars (if non-smoke4rs had been starving to death I would have accepted the ban as a least-bad solution, of course) . Should music haters be entitled to go to concerts where the band is prevented from playing? A bit daft, don’t you think? If you don’t dig what goes on somewhere, stay away.

Because it introduced a ban on a legal non-commercial activity on private property.

… on a product that had negative externalities. If it had none, I’d agree with you.

With your reasoning, it would be illiberal to stop private companies from dumping toxic stuff into rivers, seas or other public spaces.

26. John Meredith

“… on a product that had negative externalities. If it had none, I’d agree with you.”

As does music, especially for those who don’t like music. I just stay away from places that play the music I don’t like. The health problems caused by loud music are much better evidenced than health problems from secondary smoking.

27. John Meredith

“With your reasoning, it would be illiberal to stop private companies from dumping toxic stuff into rivers, seas or other public spaces.”

No, because, as I keep pointing out, pub and clubs are not public spaces. Try getting into Punk tonight with your trainers on and you will discover this for yourself.

Sunny – “How the hell was the smoking ban illiberal? I love the fact that I can now go out and not come back stinking of smoke.” Hilarious now that the smoke doesn’t cover up the full palate of truly sickening smells – dontcha just love all that car pollution which gits in yer lungs and blackens yer nostrils in the time it takes to walk across the street – how can you fail to notice that first?

John Meredith – public houses are public places, because the publican holds the license in trust for your safe guardianship and there are rafts of general and local regulations to be upheld as part of the terms which provide recourse in the event of an unsatisfactory experience. Publicans can’t ban individuals and they can’t make demands on customers (though they can try) – they may exercise their reserved rights in the public interest.

Also smoking might not be completely restricted, it’s true, but that has no bearing on whether it is a non-commercial activity. Unless you can grow your own tobacco you will have to buy it, so it is not private property, but a privately-held commodity.

Therefore in neither case does the classical liberal argument provide a definitive answer.

“No it isn’t. But (as I bang on about above) pubs are not public places. A publican can ban you without giving any reason,”

Actually they can’t. They can’t put up signs saying “no blacks, no english, no travellers”.

thomas: You assume people like sunny aren’t in favour of the advances in science to reduce both car use and pollution then?

John: As thomas has ably conveyed, and as you ignored in my previous post, a pub or bar is not a private space as it is a licensed space, and thus it is perfectly reasonable for our greater health to be considered in their licensed activity.

31. John Meredith

“John Meredith – public houses are public places, because the publican holds the license in trust for your safe guardianship and there are rafts of general and local regulations to be upheld as part of the terms which provide recourse in the event of an unsatisfactory experience.”

The regulations are in regard of the sale of alcohol, food and entertainment on private property. It is nonetheless a private place. If the landlord decides to shut up shop and sit alone drinking, there is nothing you can do about it. Smoking (as opposed to the trade in tobacco) is not governed by legislation. It is a legal activity just like playing dominos. Banning it is classically illiberal, therefore.

32. John Meredith

“John: As thomas has ably conveyed, and as you ignored in my previous post, a pub or bar is not a private space”

It really is. You may not like that, but it is. Of course,. if you want to sell alcohol in it, you will need a licence, but that pertains to the sale of alcohol in every place. But you do not need a licence to smoke.

It is illiberal to prohibit people from consenting to suffer harm at the hands of another.

“If the landlord decides to shut up shop and sit alone drinking, there is nothing you can do about it.”

However while it is open it is a licensed premises and with that comes a whole raft of things. Now you are fairly simple it seems and don’t like to actually read the facts, but licensing of premises also dictates how many people that business is allowed to have inside at any one time, it dictates what security provisions are required for the premises, and it also dictates sound level restrictions. A license is not a license to sell food and alcohol it is a license to operate a premise for licensable activities, and in that the public well being has to be considered.

Seriously, just spend the next hour going and actually doing some research instead of mindlessly spouting your garbage here, it’ll make all our lives better.

Lee, no, I was being facetious, it’s just that car pollution is a greater concern to me than smoking, partly because the byproduct would be better public transport and quicker journey times.

John, how clear do you need it made to you: any public house comprises a public space with a publican to regulate it on the public behalf according to publicly decided terms, and is accountable to the public through public hearings accepting representations from members of the public and various public servants.

The public areas inside public houses end at the bar, but because both sides of the bar are communicable by the necessity of design it becomes a term of the contract of employment to accept prior consent before you can work in a pub. Collectively it was decided that the requirement for prior consent was discriminatory and therefore less loss of liberty to restrict smoking.

I think the smoking in pubs debate is interesting because it enables the different ways which the liberty arguments are applied according to different circumstances to be placed in direct confrontation and it seems that the case for ‘good’ still beats ‘pleasure’.

Hmmmm.

I actually opposed the smoking ban.

But I don’t smoke.

However, it was done via employment law so I understand the rationale. But I still opposed it. Then I spoke to many owners of clubs and bars in Nottingham, for an article, and found that overwhelmingly – having first opposed it themselves – they were happy with the new laws. Their working environment was much-improved.

I have decided, on balance, it was probably good legislation. Illiberal? A bit… maybe.

I think the gvmt could have taken measures to ensure pubs that want to remain smoking ones, ensure proper ventilation to maintain a “clean air”.

Maybe it’s impractical/impossible… not sure.

I just don’t like bans as a rule. I even opposed the fox hunting one.

I’ll get my coat…

Did anyone oppose the legislation that prohibited the sale of cigarettes to under 18s?

I don’t think it’s a problem to oppose bans Aaron 😉 I’d love to (though doubt it’d be possible) see a survey about how much less fun smokers and non-smokers are having since the smoking ban, it’d be interesting to see if any real liberty in terms of enjoyment has been felt to be lost in a practical sense.

“Did anyone oppose the legislation that prohibited the sale of cigarettes to under 18s?”

I opposed the way in which it was implemented (it should have been phased, so that 16-17 year olds who’d legally become addicted to tobacco were not subsequently criminalised for feeding their addiction).

Not /wholly/ in favour of it in principle either – while there’s no real logic in having separate ages for legal acquisition of booze and fags, I suspect 16 for both might be more sensible.

re. John B

Staggered would have made sense.

Aaron, I find myself much in agreement with you.

The point about smoking I’d raise is that the government has introduced a blanket ban in commercial premises, whereas I’d enable provision for smokers on a voluntary basis in rooms where the public and private spheres don’t collide, though it seems ever more impossible to find any room in most pubs which is designed primarily as a place for consumption than as an opportunity to sell more.

Now foxes… my neighbours have been agitating about urban foxes recently and the trouble they cause, even suggesting a cull – and these were people who went on anti-hunt protests! Ah, the hypocrisy! Perhaps the present legislation isn’t sustainable in the long term.

legislation against ages is pointless anyway. Do kids that want to smoke really not do so because of an age barrier, or because it costs an arm and a leg in pocket money terms? Age limits rely on the entirety of the population adhering to the principle and parents enforcing it on their children rather than fueling it. This just doesn’t necessarily work, especially amongst liberal minded families and families that really don’t give a shit.

Case in point, more measures were brought in to force kids from drinking in pubs under age. Almost exactly the same amount of kids that used to drink in pubs under age now drink on the street (thanks Labour), and it just goes to show that accessing alcohol isn’t a problem regardless of how we crack down and shift focus.

“Ah, the hypocrisy! Perhaps the present legislation isn’t sustainable in the long term.”

Hmm, the two situations aren’t really comparable though are they…hunting animals (be they pests) for sport vs humane culling of a pest? I always found it disturbing that people could justify inhumane treatment of animals becaue they’re a pest, it is far too close a mentality to treating other humans badly because they’re immigrants/black/gay/etc.

thomas

My problem with the fox-hunting ban was that it was class-based. IMO

Also, I think it should have been allowed to die it’s own death. I agree it was a cruel way of doing things. But the entire food-chain is pretty horrid, anyway.

It was a very old part of our culture. I’ve never been on a hunt, but I grew up on a farm and had friends who did. Things were changing, anyway. Attitudes etc. But legislation is just viewed as an urban assault on rural culture. Fishing wasn’t banned.

*this is not a debate I want to get into – so I’ll shut up*

“Do kids that want to smoke really not do so because of an age barrier, or because it costs an arm and a leg in pocket money terms?”

Interestingly, the age barrier has done little but imbue teenagers with far more dedication to their hobby. When one can easily buy cigarettes one barely notices, but when one has to thrift, scrimp together, fake one’s age etc. one becomes particularly passionate. Smoking was always ‘cool’ but it was never previously a club.

“Almost exactly the same amount of kids that used to drink in pubs under age now drink on the street (thanks Labour), and it just goes to show that accessing alcohol isn’t a problem regardless of how we crack down and shift focus.”

The police are rather diffident to underage drinking. Arresting would be far more trouble than it’s worth for them, so they prefer to scold, confiscate and enjoy a quick beer at the station.

Incidentally, and though I feel great sympathy for the staff workers, I can’t help but feel that there were merits to the tube drinking. After all, it irritated Stephen Pollard: http://www.spectator.co.uk/stephenpollard/748546/tube-scum.thtml

It is illiberal to prohibit people from consenting to suffer harm at the hands of another.

It is also illiberal to force people to suffer from the negative externalities of other people’s actions.

Now, in certain cases the negative externality does not always apply to a situation. so for example, if I want to have a quiet beer on the tube, that is very different to assuming that everytime I have one I’ll get drunk and throw up on someone else.

The other point it seems to me is that some people make the distinction between public and private space, which I think works better when you’re talking about home space and outside space.. but not necessarily trying to make a distinction between a pub and the tube.

John Meredith’s point above seems to be that in a privately owned space only the owner can decide and in a publically owned space there should be no restrictions.

This is why I raised the point about private companies dumping chemicals into rivers. Rivers are not privately owned spaces but the negative externality of pollution effects everyone. How would they deal with that?

Aaron, foxes are a good example of how the law will change to reflect new circumstances. Personally I’m ambivalent about bans even if they make me angry, because I know they don’t last without modification.

I don’t think there is much difference between the way different classes treat foxes when it suits them, what is different is that wealthier people ritualise behaviour patterns on the basis of repeating established patterns, which in turn provides for greater luxury in the manner of doing so.

Consider: the alienated underclass use a pitbull and butterflyknife, the middle-class call up health and safety, while the wealthy overclass keep stables and organise balls.

Good point, thomas.

“This is why I raised the point about private companies dumping chemicals into rivers. Rivers are not privately owned spaces but the negative externality of pollution effects everyone. How would they deal with that?”

You have to identify who is harmed by the pollution. A specific river will go somewhere and if the people in that area are threatened, they have the right to sue for damages and, if it doesn’t cease, seize whatever is causing the pollution. Classical liberals will have no problem with that. On the other hand, if the company wants to come to some arrangement with the people living there, by paying them each a premium in return for the increased health risk, then that is fine too. So long as the arrangement is explicit and consensual and negative externalities are accounted for, it is all good. Ideally, this would be how you would deal with things like flight paths as well.

Late to this one it seems— 1) can someone point me at the genuine actual scientific evidence based on peer reviewed studies that says “passive smoking” is actually bad for your health? Because I recall seeing several that said it was either neutral or possibly slightly good for you, but I can’t recall seeing any saying it was bad.

2) Why does every time this come up it polarise into “I want smoking everywhere” and “smoking should never be allowed anywhere I want to go”?

There was a clear instance of market failure in the run up to the smoking ban, and the Govt decided to ban it everywhere (badly, with poorly worded and contestable legislation) rather than poke the market in a good direction.

There should have been many many more pubs that were completely non smoking than there were, and there should have been many more that only allowed smoking in limited, ventilated areas. That there weren’t was due to inertia within the industry and lack of govt impetus—they wanted (again) to ban something instead of allowing for more choice.

I want to see pubs and similar allowed to apply for licenses to allow some of their internal areas to be smoking areas. This should have a cost. Then some pubs will choose to allow smoking completely, some will allow it partially, and many more will remain non-smoking.

This would be a sensible, liberal approach. A middle ground position that allows all to be happy. Instead we have a blanket ban and a very badly hit industry.

Aaron? Read the trade press on the effects of the ban—I read a lot these days (can’t think why), and it’s overwhelmingly opposed, pubs are suffering and closing, and trade has been hit hard since the ban came in—combine that with the stupidly applied tax in the last budget and you have the “Ban Darling” campaign, which is just the start of what will be happening from what I cansee.

As the resident representative of the licensed trade:

“Publicans can’t ban individuals and they can’t make demands on customers (though they can try)”

Complete bollocks, sorry. I do not have to serve anyone if I don’t want to. Of course discrimination laws apply, but a pub is still a private building.

As an aside, would anyone here have objected to separate rooms?

MatGB

A great deal of trade publications tend to be the domain of the most outspoken. Trust me. I’ve written for a few.

That said, I’ll say that the majority of the people I spoke to were owners of hip clubs, and hardly the general publican. I bow to your greater exposure, but leave the rider that Nottingham’s more “trendy” establishments don’t concur with your premise.

:o)

As an aside, would anyone here have objected to separate rooms?

I don’t think so. It may work in some pubs. In the majority, I would say that this is impractical. Better to have no law or a “clean air” policy.

Aaron, most pubs used to have a tap room. Most of them still have one up here, albeit knocked through and opened out. Wouldn’t take much to close them off again.

As for your “not the typical publican” comment… you’d be hard pressed to find one these days, the rates pubs are going out of business. Still, at least people can enjoy the clean air, eh?

Aaron, most pubs used to have a tap room. Most of them still have one up here, albeit knocked through and opened out. Wouldn’t take much to close them off again.

Would this be a gvmt funded renovation?

Just askin’.

*rues the passing of the tap room*

My dad was a crack darts player. Still rules the local leagues. Could have turned pro, had he not got some rich chick preggers 30-yrs ago…

No, but I suspect that lots of pubs would voluntarily pay a couple of hundred quid for plasterboard and a lick of paint to get their customers back.

Jennie,

Much as the “leper-room” sounds great, I prefer my “clean air” policy.

But then I would, I guess.

Because, as I was saying to Mat, it’s not enough that smokers have to be kept seperate, they have to stand out in the rain and be made to suffer…

I just hope that the huge swathes of lost tax revenue from people giving up smoking are put on something that all the evangelical non smokers LOVE – eau de sanctimony perhaps. Because SOME bugger is going to have to pay for it.

Actually, I suspect it will be drink. The next target on the list of the new puritans. Boris is just ahead of the game.

I prefer my “clean air” policy.

Enjoy it while it lasts, the rate pubs are failing currently you’ll be stuck with chain pubs and not much else pretty soon.

Which is part of the point—forcing all pubs to conform means we lose far too many.

Oh, hang on, does Talinn have a smoking ban? Most of the Ests I’ve met smoked…

Pub’s are dying because of the lack of government foresight, current sight and even hindsight in to the issue of alcohol pricing while shovelling more and more legislation and legal threats on pub owners regarding alcohol use, not because of a smoking ban. Pub sales were on the decline way before the smoking ban hit, the trade is using it as a scapegoat as far as I’m concerned.

From my small insight of having worked in the industry for a few years, punter numbers were visibly declining easily since 2003, and only ever rallied when we were able to convince the book keepers (which was easier when I became one) to allow us to be a bit more liberal with our drinks offers. Anecdotal perhaps, but certainly the smoking ban was not yet introduced when I attended a trade convention, and they were talking rather sourly of the decline in sales nationally then, and the various strategies being employed to get the punters to the bar.

“As an aside, would anyone here have objected to separate rooms?”

The question about this was raised at the time, and it’s a tough one. I was happy for pubs and bars that could ensure that rooms that allow smoking were a) off the main walkways b) ventilated c) not in the location (or in any route to the location) of ammenities such as toilets, or to the bars themselves then no-one should have a problem with them operating smoking rooms. But the emphasis needed to change from pubs having non-smoking areas to pubs having smoking areas…and where they could not provide smoking areas with definition they shouldn’t be allowed to let smokers in there.

But the real question in all of that was how hard would that be to police? A blanket ban is of course not the most ideal, but is it the most practical? People go on about how there are pubs suffering because they don’t have outside space…I’d argue the same amount of pubs would suffer, and possibly suffer harder, because they didn’t have enough space or layout inside to offer the smoking areas that other pubs and bars could.

Lee, of course you’re right that other things have affected trade as well, the disparity between the price of a beer in the pub and a beer in Tesco’s being an obvious example, but the smoking ban had a noticeable and immediate effect on both footfall and the length of time people stay in the pub – I was in the trade before the ban and am still in it now. Just because it’s not the ONLY thing having an effect doesn’t mean it’s not having an effect at all.

We HAVE got a small number of customers who come in now who didn’t before – but as they are mostly the under tens at Sunday dinner, and as they mostly cause huge amounts of mess for the price of a glass of cordial, I’d hardly say they make up for what we’ve lost.

Jennie @52 by missing off half of the sentence in the quote you are splitting a hair over a legal definition when the effect is the same.

The question I have about the smoking ban is ultimately is it really affecting this situation by any real measure, is it not just what has been noted in both New York and Ireland with declines in attendance before increasing again…but perhaps most pertinently is the smoking ban really the issue if those attendances don’t increase or just the straw that broke the camels back when it comes to punters just not seeing the value in their local any more? I feel it’s a very complex issue, and I have severe doubts that if smoking was reintroduced in a liberal way that any trade would necessarily be regained. The industry just seems to be in a bad shape and isn’t being given any of the right tools to get itself back in the game.

Sunny,

It is also illiberal to force people to suffer from the negative externalities of other people’s actions.

That is true.

Rivers are not privately owned spaces but the negative externality of pollution effects everyone. How would they deal with that?

Dumping is prohibited because the dumpers haven’t negotiated to compensate us for the pollution they cause. Nick @50 is spot on.

Lee,

hunting animals (be they pests) for sport vs humane culling of a pest?

You’d rather killing animals be a serious affair? Not sure it makes any difference to the animals.

But the real question in all of that [a smoking room] was how hard would that be to police? A blanket ban is of course not the most ideal, but is it the most practical?

They’d be equally hard to police.

Jennie Rigg,

you’d be hard pressed to find one these days, the rates pubs are going out of business.

I read recently this was about two a week. Does that seem about right?

27 a week in 2007, but I don’t know if that’s including correction for openings or not:

http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/2008/03/05/319396/pub-closure-rate-rises-in-2007.html


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