News & Comment

Antony Worrall Thompson right to fight for designated smoking rooms

Fri 2nd September, 2011

A leading hotelier says TV chef and Forest patron Antony Worrall Thompson is right to call for a review of the smoking ban 

Pride of Britain chief executive Peter Hancock says the smoking ban "has crucified pubs and clubs in all parts of Britain and continues to do so"..

Writing for Caterer and Hotelkeeper, Hancock says:

Judging by the immediate reaction to Antony Worrall Thompson's campaign to petition the government to review the impact of the law that bans smoking in pubs and other licensed premises, he will garner a fair amount of support.

I know that many people in our trade, including Caterer and Hotelkeeper itself, argued vigorously in favour of the ban before it came into force and I am among the ex-smokers who now appreciate clean air on my occasional saunters to the bar.

Among publicans, however, there is clearly much bitterness as the ban has undoubtedly driven some of them out of business and pushed others to the brink ...

The ban has forced those who smoke, currently a perfectly legal activity, to stand outside or stay at home instead of enjoying an evening with their friends in licensed, regulated comfort away from children ...

The word that features in a lot of the reaction to Worrall Thompson's crusade is choice. Shouldn't well-informed adults have a choice if the market is able to provide one?

We can choose whether or not to drink alcohol, eat saturated fats or climb scary mountains. Why shouldn't we choose whether or not we wish to allow smoking in a designated part of our pub or club if that's what customers want?

I don't suppose the petition has a cat in hell's chance of reversing the ban but I think it's right to pose the question before similar liberties are lost forever.

In the same issue, pubs, bars and casual dining editor Neil Gerrard comments:

It seems there are few aspects of modern life in which politicians and medical professionals are content not to meddle. But the hospitality sector must experience more than its fair share of interference. In this week alone we have seen three debates over how much the Government should regulate areas directly affecting the industry.

The first of these was sparked by chef Antony Worrall Thompson, a patron of smokers' group Forest, who called for a review of the smoking ban. Say what you like about Worrall Thompson ... he does raise a valid point. The ban has undeniably contributed to the increased closure rate of pubs over the past five years.

Few would argue for a repeal of the ban, and Caterer and Hotelkeeper is not among them, but it does demonstrate the rule of unintended consequences.

Source: Caterer and Hotelkeeper (2 September 2011)

See also: Antony Worrall Thompson launches petition for smoking ban review 
(Caterer and Hotelkeeper, 24 August 2011)

Link: Pride of Britain Hotels

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