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30-11-2014, 17:00
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Last Thursday, the local CAMRA branch presented its Pub of the Month award to the Fletcher Moss (http://whatpub.com/pubs/MAS/4198/fletcher-moss-didsbury) in Didsbury. It’s an excellent pub well deserving of the accolade, and a good time was had by all on the night. I noticed that at the back it had a particularly well-designed outside smoking shelter, with plenty of seating and enclosed on two sides. But is that something I’m really allowed to tell people about?
As Simon Clark recounts here (http://taking-liberties.squarespace.com/blog/2014/11/27/asa-bans-ad-for-smoking-friendly-app.html), Imperial Tobacco has set up a website and app called Smoke Spots (http://www.smoke-spots.co.uk/) which aims to show people the locations of smoker-friendly pubs, clubs and restaurants. He doesn’t actually think it makes a very good job of it, and certainly there’s very little listed in my local area.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled against an advert for Smoke Spots on the grounds that it is allegedly promoting smoking and showing it in a positive light. However, even within a context of the tobacco advertising ban, a website clearly isn’t a tobacco product, and this ruling seems to stray into the territory of restricting freedom of speech.
As Simon says, “Smoke Spots provides legitimate information for consumers of a legal product, advising them where they can light up in relative comfort without inconveniencing non-smokers.” The existence of smoking shelters is a matter of observable fact, but in our censorious, politically correct society it is apparently unacceptable to tell anyone else about in a form that is visible to the public.
So, bear in mind, when the alcohol advertising ban comes in, you won’t even be allowed to publicise that beer is available in a particular pub, let alone which beers.
Oh, and off the top of my head I would say that the Armoury and Royal Oak in Edgeley, the Arden Arms in Stockport town centre and the Railway in Marple all have pretty decent covered smoking areas within what the law allows. So come on, make that complaint!

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