ONE local landlord has announced he will be stubbing out smoking in his pub long before the proposed government ban next summer. The Prince of Wales/Outback, in Whitehill, has been partially non-smoking since November last year and should be a smoke-free establishment by next month. The landlord, Mike Salczynski, explained that the pub is ahead of the game because he is in the process of having new carpets fitted in the bar which he does not want to be spoiled by stubbed- out cigarettes and ash. Mr Salczynski said he had been expecting the ban and even carried out his own customer research. He surveyed smokers in his pub in Whitehill and his pubs in Wrecclesham and Aldershot and found that of 1,500 people surveyed, nine out of 10 smokers do not smoke in their own homes. Some landlords fear there will be a loss in trade because of the ban, because smokers closely associate smoking with having a drink in a pub, but Mr Salczynski plans to cater for his smokers with outside heaters and smoking areas. "If you do it properly you will not lose trade," he said. MPs voted last week for a total ban by a majority of 200 after months of wrangling over the issue. Originally, the government was planning to ban smoking just in pubs serving food, but this was extended to all enclosed spaces because of fears of health inequalities among customers and staff. The landlady of The Selborne Arms, High Street, Selborne, Hayley Carter, said she thinks the public do not mind about smoking as much as the government thinks they do, but she was unable to predict how the ban may effect trade. She said: "It is hard to say what impact it will have. A lot of our regular drinkers do smoke and a lot of people come out for a smoke as much as they do for a drink. "We have always had a non-smoking dining area and it does tend to get full with bookings more quickly than the smoking side." Health campaigners have welcomed the ban as a victory for public health. Chris Chappell, health improvement manager for north Hampshire, said she was "delighted". "This is real recognition of the harm caused by secondhand smoke. People have always thought 'it hurts my eyes' and 'makes my throat a bit sore' but it does much more than just that," she said. "MPs have not only recognised the real risks, they have also recognised that we can't treat one group of workers differently to others. It is no use allowing bar workers, who work in pubs that don't serve food, and those in private members' clubs to breathe in cigarette toxins and those who work in establishments which do serve food to escape them. That is not fair." Mrs Chappell is optimistic that the ban will encourage more smokers to kick the habit. "It will make non-smoking the norm, and that is a powerful message in helping to encourage young people not to start and support those who have just quit," she said. "When they stopped public smoking in Massachusetts for six months, they found an enormous drop in heart disease for just that six months. It really does have quite an impact." Some opponents have argued that the ban will simply result in more people smoking at home, and, therefore, exposing their families to secondhand smoke instead of pub and club-goers. But Mrs Chappell said experience in other countries had proved that this was not the case. "I went to Ireland the year before last and there is still lots of chatting, dancing and singing, despite the ban. It is a wonderful atmosphere, and you cannot replicate that in your home," she said. "I think this is sending out the message that secondhand smoke does kill and I think people will become more considerate and start to reduce the amount they smoke in the home. "For years we have just paid lip service to it. I think we will look back in five years' time and wonder how we coped with it." Jennifer Gray, the East Hampshire district councillor responsible for active and healthy lifestyles, said: "EHDC welcomes the ban on smoking in public places. Passive smoking can kill, and apart from making public places a much pleasanter and safer environment to be in, the ban will save lives." James Arbuthnot, the member for north east Hampshire, also backed the ban when he voted in parliament. He said it was not a decision he took lightly. "I found myself in a difficult dilemma because on the one hand there is the freedom not to be told what to do by the government, but on the other hand I believe that the single most important thing that we can do to improve people's health is to have the ban, and that is why I eventually voted for it," he explained. "I am not and have never been a smoker. The people who do smoke are free to do so, and that is one definition of freedom, but people who have to breathe in other people's smoke feel that they should be free to breathe in clean air. "I eventually came down in favour of the view that people who work in pubs and clubs and people who eat in restaurants should be able to do so in as clean an environment as possible. "Some people have said that private members' clubs should be exempt, but the consequence is that the pubs that would still be banned from smoking would lose all their trade to private members' clubs and that seemed to me to be economically unfair, and it also seemed to me not to achieve one of the results that we need to achieve, which is to protect people who work in private members' clubs. "Those people are protected from all the other health and safety legislation, so why should this be the only piece of legislation that does not protect them?"
Landlord leads the way by banning smoking
Friday 24th February 2006 12:00 am
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