ALE Spring 2004 No. 313 : Next section

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The Brown Stuff: Smoking - The Big Issue!

It has often been said there is nothing more bigoted than the reformed smoker, and do you know, I resemble that remark! It is an issue that is never far from my thoughts and the facts are that the majority of people do not smoke. I have for the longest time worked in smoky pubs, and have had countless chest infections caused by passive smoking. It all started when I was young and my mother used to smoke at least 100 cigarettes a day, she even kept a clothes peg next to the bath so as she could smoke and not get the dreaded weed wet, that was what made me prone to chest infections. Though I do also have to admit to having been a smoker when I was in my late teens.

One of the country's finest pubs is the Queen's Head at Newton. One of the things I admire most about it is that nothing ever changes. I first visited the pub in the late 1960s, and it is like a time warp, the words 'new' and 'change' are totally alien to the Short family. Well, at last even they have moved with the times, and have made the games room and lounge bar no-smoking.

The Cambridge Blue is, as I'm sure you all know, completely no-smoking. I have admired Chris and Debbie Lloyd's dedication to keeping this anti-social habit at bay. Indeed on the occasions that I have run the pub for them it has been wonderful not to have to undress outside the bedroom for the dreadful reek of smoke and be able to wear the same pullover the following day. Another pub where I have been known to pull the odd pint is the Live & Let Live in Mawson Road, a wonderful little boozer, but oh dear, the extractors are not man enough for the high level smoke in there when it gets busy.

Now don't get me wrong: smokers are nice people, they tend to be social animals, and I am prepared to put up with some smoke, even if I would prefer it to be banned. In Eire it is now banned in all pubs and clubs and I think the days of smoking in British pubs are numbered.

California is another place where it has been eradicated. It is a little curious that the government department that handles alcohol, tobacco and firearms will have you locked up for drinking a beer in the street or fined for smoking in a bar, but is happy to have people wandering around with guns!

It could be that we will bring in laws restricting smoke to certain areas of the pubs, and they will be allowed only if there is sufficient ventilation. I am not one to follow needless interference in people's personal habits, but certainly we should have a situation where bar staff do not have to suffer for other people's pleasure: it all smacks of children being shoved up chimneys. I will welcome the day when new regulations are brought in, and it can't come a minute too soon.

Jerry Brown

ALE Spring 2004 No. 313 : Next section
Cambridge & District CAMRA