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30-11-2013, 11:55
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Fuller’s have recently become the latest recruit to the list of pub operators – most notably including Wetherspoon’s – to impose a blanket ban on the indoor use of e-cigarettes in their estate (http://www.morningadvertiser.co.uk/General-News/Fuller-s-bans-e-cigarettes-from-pubs). The reasons given are twofold, that it can be difficult for staff to manage, and that it causes “anxiety” amongst customers. The first may have some validity, especially in a busy pub, but it’s nowhere near as difficult as they suggest, especially given that the ban on smoking real cigarettes is pretty much self-enforcing anyway. The second, on the other hand, just seems to be pandering to the kind of hysterical anti-smokers who, before the ban would say “Oh noes! There’s someone smoking on the other side of the room! I’m going to DIE!!!” and might go into a paroxysm if they saw someone who appeared to be smoking. Indeed, much of the opposition to e-cigs seems to stem simply from the fact that they somewhat resemble real cigarettes rather than from any kind of rational assessment of the risks.
Of course, pub operators are entirely within their rights to ban the use of e-cigs if they choose to do so, and I would strongly defend the principle of “my gaff, my rules”. But there is certainly no law against using them indoors, and they are becoming increasingly popular. There must be a growing number of pub customers who regard using an e-cig inside as much preferable to going out into the cold to smoke a real one. Given that they are often used as a means of helping people stop smoking, pubs banning them could also be seen as standing in the way of reducing smoking prevalence.
Rather than taking the easy way out and imposing a blanket ban, would it not make sense for pubs to make an effort to manage the issue, which is not in practice the impossible task that the likes of Fuller’s claim? They might even find they gain business by making a point of advertising themselves as “e-cig friendly”. And, if some customers still found it objectionable, there’s no reason why pubs can’t have an area where e-cigs are permitted, and an area where they’re not. That sounds like a very sensible idea – I wonder where I’ve heard it before...

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