COUNTY NEWS: Plan to cut smoking outside pubs and restaurants

Eateries in the city will be encouraged to make their outside dining areas smoke-free
Eateries in the city will be encouraged to make their outside dining areas smoke-free

Restaurants and pubs could be encouraged to introduce smoke-free zones in their outdoor areas.

The initiative in Brighton and Hove follows a consultation by the city council almost two years ago, which asked the public if they wanted a voluntary smoking ban in some areas of the city.

Cllr Daniel Yates

Cllr Daniel Yates

Although the majority of those who responded rejected the idea of banning smoking at the beach and in parks, smoke-free zones outside pubs and restaurants was seen as more favourable.

Around 65 per cent of non-smoking residents agreed restaurants with outdoor seating should be smoke free, and 55 per cent said the same about pubs.

Just over half of residents who responded (53 per cent) agreed that it was anti-social to smoke where people are eating and drinking.

The move towards introducing voluntary smoke free areas outside restaurants and pubs in the city will be discussed at the city’s health and wellbeing board next week.

Could many of the city's restaurants and pubs make their outdoor areas smoke free?

Could many of the city's restaurants and pubs make their outdoor areas smoke free?

Cllr Daniel Yates, chair of the health and wellbeing board, said: “When we consulted, the public was supportive of the idea of having some areas outside where people could sit and enjoy a drink or food without having to worry about smokers, and smoke blowing over their meal.

“The council’s public health team has been talking to restaurants in the city to see if there is something they would consider doing. They asked a dozen and I think ten of those 12 would be happy to consider it. It is not going any further than that at the moment, we just want to test the water.

“What we are going to do is start talking to see if the restaurants and cafes agree with it.”

The 12 businesses consulted by the council were in the North Laine area, Brighton Marina and the city’s parks.

Gavin Stewart

Gavin Stewart

The research found that three businesses at the Marina already enforced a no smoking policy in their outdoor areas.

But two of the businesses consulted said they would not implement the scheme because they were concerned about losing loyal customers.

Cllr Yates said the move was entirely voluntary, and that it wasn’t an attack on smokers.

He said: “Some people will always want to smoke. Smokers understandably feel they have been thrown out of the from the inside of restaurants and pubs and outside space is their territory.”

But the move is a bid to spread a public health message to encourage people not to start smoking in the first place.

“We know Brighton has still got higher smoking rates than the national average and we need to do something about it,” said Cllr Yates.

In Brighton and Hove, 21 per cent of the population are smokers, as opposed to 17 per cent nationally. But the council’s research has shown that smoking rates have dropped from 25 per cent to 21 per cent from 2012 to 2015.

Smoking levels in people under 15 in Brighton and Hove was also considered high; 15 per cent compared to the eight per cent nationally.

The smoke-free outdoor dining scheme is just one way make smoking less visible in the city, the council said.

There is already a national ban on smoking in work places, inside school grounds, children’s centres and hospital grounds, and Brighton and Hove City Council agreed in December 2015 to encourage a smoking ban at school gates, children’s play parks and outside children’s centres.

The scheme to work with restaurants and pubs will launch this month, costing the £1,500 and it will include giving participating businesses window stickers and posters to promote messages about being an outdoor smoke free zone.

The council will also promote approved and registered businesses on its website.

But will many businesses get on board?

Gavin Stewart of Brilliant Brighton - the business improvement district for the city centre - said: “There are so many eclectic businesses in Brighton and Hove that some will support this whilst others won’t. “

The potential of lost revenue with customers leaving a venue to smoke, will no doubt hang heavy in the minds of the businesses that don’t support the proposals, whilst being smoke free may be someone else’s USP.

"Time can only tell which will ultimately be more favoured by the paying public.”

Would you welcome a similar move by the council in your area? Let us know by commenting below.