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  Inside Out - South West of England: Monday February 9, 2004

A SEVEN STAR SMOKING BAN?

Pub sign
Smokers may be on borrowed time

In a quiet South West village the local pub is trying a contentious experiment.

A ban on smoking. What are the odds of it working? Inside Out finds they are slim.

The Seven Stars pub is a well known watering hole in Penryn, Cornwall and it recently dared to defy all known laws of averages.

It introduced, just for one night, a ban on smoking. But with little success.

After threats of a mass walkout, the publican, Rob Brinkhof, eventually gave up at the first hurdle - after just over one hour.

Seven Stars pub
Was the experiment dead before it started?

But if the Seven Stars pub experiment in Penryn was to take hold, and the American style "no smoking bars" came to the South West and elsewhere in the country, it could save thousands of lives.

And it's not just the drinkers lives we are talking about. The bar staff are there inhaling the acrid smoke every minute the bar is open.

But one Seven Stars drinker, Dave Walker, says, "Why ban smoking? This is a place of recreation and my recreation is smoking and drinking.

"If they want to work in such a place, they should wear a respirator or breathing apparatus."

Alarming facts

Over 120,000 smokers die every year of smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and heart attacks in the UK, six times the number killed in road accidents.

According to the World Health Organisation, one out of every two long-term smokers will be killed by tobacco.

Stopwatch
High-profile campaigns have highlighted access issues

From 1985-2000, tobacco has killed more than 60 million people in the developed countries alone, more than died in World War Two.

The move to reduce that number by the Seven Stars pub was a bold if not futile gesture.

But there are some places that have notched up success with the ban in the UK.

In August 2003, Pizza Hut became the first major UK restaurant chain to ban smoking in all its eating places.

Its goal in snuffing out smoking was to protect its customers and staff from the dangers of passive smoking.

Look west

However, while there have been a few isolated successes around the country, the place to look for a lead is America.

California was one of the first places to introduce a no smoking policy five years ago. Other American states like Delaware and Maryland have followed.

In March 2003, New York's Mayor introduced a controversial smoking ban in the city's 20,000 bars, clubs and restaurants.

Aaron Crocket - Scruffy Duffy's manager
Aaron Crocket's NY bar copes with the changes

This was despite resistance from bar proprietors and the city's 1.3 million smokers.

Read the City of New York's
letter to businesses giving details of the smoking ban.

Bars that flout the ban in the big apple are liable to fines of $400.

Inside Out travelled to New York to investigate whether the smoking ban was having the desired effect in cutting smoking.

The Big Smoke

Reaction to the smoking ban in New York has been mixed. Some businesses claim that trade is down and that smokers are deserting bars in droves.

But one bar the team visited seemed to be living comfortably with the ban.

Manager of Irish Bar - Scruffy Duffy's, Aaron Crocket, says, "Ireland's changing over this year, I don't know if it's as strict as it's here in New York, but people adjust.

Dave Walker in The Seven Stars pub
Dave Walker found a way to smoke and drink

"There're a couple of weeks where people will moan about it - you get used to it - and you can still smoke outside, still smoke at home - but I believe it's better for everyone."

Others say that that the effect on businesses has been minimal although smokers are now going out onto the streets to burn the weeds.

There is of course a danger of noise in residential areas and resulting complaints about the growing heaps of cigarette butts outside venues.

It's probably too soon to assess the full impact of the ban in New York particularly on businesses.

But in California, where the ban has been in place much longer, there's evidence that bar sales haven't been affected.

Seventy three per cent of Californians now support the ban as opposed to 65% when it was first introduced. So could the Seven Stars experience be misleading?

There are only about two dozen pubs in the UK that are currently smoke free, and the nearest one to Penryn is in Gloucestershire.

Rob Brinkhof's experiment floundered on the ashtrays of the bar after a short time, but as smokers are becoming more and more marginalised, it may just be a matter of time.

See also ...

Inside Out: South West
More great stories

On the rest of Inside Out
North East: Smoking ban looms
West Midlands: No smoking

On bbc.co.uk
BBC News: New Rule to Stub out Smoking
BBC News: Pizza Hut Bans Smoking
BBC News: Global Warning on Smoking
BBC News: New York's Withdrawal Symptoms
BBC News: Last Smoke in New York
BBC Health: Smoking

On the rest of the web
Ash
Forest
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
World Health Organisation

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites

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Readers' Comments

We are not adding any new comments to this page but you can still read some of the comments previously submitted by readers.

Lawrence
The experiment was amusing but ill considered. It can only work with enough warning so that non-smokers know that they will be safe there. The only effect was to annoy the smokers without being able to attract the non-smokers.

I live in Jersey where several restaurants have reported increased business when they banned smoking. This has also been found in other countries such as the USA.

Smoking has been banned in such places in several countries including Australia where the unions were concerned about the health risks to their members who had to work in smoke.

The government here in Jersey voted last year to ban smoking in all places where food is served. Some of our politicians are still working on extending this to include bars and pubs. It is not law yet but could be later this year. Civilisation at last!

Roger Devries
I wondered if the smokers realised how ignorant and selfish they were and in the case of the man who tried to drink outside how foolish he made himself look? "I am british and have a right to clean air." I don't go to pubs very often because I cannot stand the stench.

R Morgan
Smoking has negative effects not only on smokers, but on those who have to breathe in smoke from others against their will.

Smoking is far worse than speeding in a car or parking on a yellow line, yet both the latter are illegal and are subject to fines.

If people choose to smoke, then that is their choice. However they cannot and should not be able to make the choice for others. The sooner it is banned the better.

Christopher and Vivienne Walford
The experiment at the Seven Stars was inevitably going to show people threatening to leave as they have always smoked there before.

What it did not show was that there are a large number of people who would like to go for a drink, but do not or cannot due to the fact that there are already peole smoking in the pub.

Vivienne has a respiratory disorder and as a result of this we have not been able to enter a pub for years - we would certainly do so if smoking was banned.

Richard
No Smoking and I will return to have a drink.

Iain Vincent
I live in Milton Keynes, Where is my local smoke free pub?

Alex Litchfield
The least that publicans should do is to provide a smoke free room. As old style pubs had a smoke room, now they could have a no-smoke room.

The least the government should do is to ban smoking in any room wherein food is prepared and/or consumed. This is as much for reasons of hygiene as for any other health reason.



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