Smoking in pubs - A black mark for the Dog & Duck

Martin Belam by Martin Belam, 15 November 2004

So it is being reported that the Government are getting cold feet on imposing a total UK-wide smoking ban in enclosed public spaces by only including pubs if they serve food, despite the introduction of one in Scotland. One of the arguments against such a move is that it would be too much "nanny state" and that, after all, the market will eventually decide. This is despite the fact that giving pubs the ability to operate a non-smoking policy in some areas of their premise is scientifically naive (particles don't respect no smoking signs) and socially naive (people seldom respect requests not to smoke in no smoking areas when pubs are busy, even when meek people like me pluck up the courage to make a fuss).

And some pubs don't even operate their no smoking areas as a permanent fixture.

The other week I popped into the Dog & Duck pub on Chingford Road for a wind-down pint after work. I hadn't been there long when I was disturbed by a guy who wanted to move me from my seat on the raised area in the corner, so that he could set up the evening's musical entertainment. I had no objection, as given the layout it is the natural place to put a DJ.

However, it is also the only No Smoking area of the pub. So although in theory the Dog & Duck offers a No Smoking area, in practice it is not available to the public on the nights the pub has a DJ or Karaoke on. So every night between 8pm and closing time from Thursday to Sunday. Much of the argument against either a complete ban on smoking in public places, or a ban on smoking in work-places, hinges on the fact that voluntary arrangements empower the consumer to make a choice.

Well my choice this time was to leave my beer unfinished rather than be forced to sit in the smoking section. If one of the pubs I could get to in Walthamstow within a twenty minute walk adopted a complete no smoking policy I would without doubt make that my regular haunt in an instant.

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