Publicans and the smoking ban

October 29th, 2003 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

On RTE this morning the presenter said a publican at last night’s meeting of the VFI had said words to the effect of “Let’s be frank, we’re the ones who run the country” in arguing that publicans should not implement the new smoking ban. I’m not really surprised at the sentiment – it has more than a ring of truth to it – but the brazen nature in which it was said reveals a certain crassness that may damage the publicans.

Similarly, the call to withhold VAT payments seems to bear no relation to the issue at hand. Coupled with the contradictory arguments such as that publicans support a full ban and only oppose the fact that they will be liable for enforcement, which is often claimed in the same interview that a publican later claims to be in favour of a ‘partial’ ban, where certain parts of the pub would be smoke-free. Apart from the continually changing stance, a publican would obviously have many of the same difficulties enforcing a partial ban – perhaps even more complex ones – so if they back a partial ban they can’t object to a total ban on the basis of enforcement. In addition, in the past publicans have trumpeted their role in policing their establishments – but that was when they were looking for the right to discriminate against Travellers, so that was different….

On a slightly different note, the Labour Party has noted today that the two pieces of regulation which will govern the ban seem to be contradictory – one bans smoking in all workplaces, except homes, and the other bans smoking in all enclosed workplaces – with no exception for homes. Obvious points of contradiction, apart from the homes, include outdoor sites such as farms and construction sites, outdoor seating areas in pubs and so on.

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