Plymouth publican says smoking ban would ‘kill’ venues

A Plymouth pub landlord has said that it would be “absolutely ridiculous” if smoking was banned in outside areas at pubs and venues. This comes after the news that North Oxfordshire is considering a smoking ban and North Tyneside, Durham, Newcastle, Northumberland and Manchester City councils have all begun stipulating smoke-free pavement drinking and dining rules in the past year, according to their licensing conditions. The coronavirus pandemic has meant that many businesses have shifted to ‘alfresco’ dining and outdoor drinking in order to curb the spread of the virus.

The government introduced special rules during the period of restrictions allowing councils to grant temporary pavement licences to help struggling establishments, while indoor spaces were shut to customers. And one Plymouth pub owner says a smoking ban outdoors would ‘kill’ the hospitality business for good. Ultan Moran, owner of Kitty O’Hanlons on St Andrew Street in the city centre has said the last year has been hard enough as it is without more restrictions.

During the lockdown, kindhearted Mr Moran spent Thursday nights travelling across the city to gift a well deserved pint to those carrying out important jobs across the city. He used his event catering truck and served Guinness from the tap to NHS staff, postmen, binmen, lorry drivers, pharmacists, shop workers and other key workers as a thank you for their hard work during unprecedented times. He’s also launched “something a bit quirky” this Father’s Day and has decided to put a Christmas tree up and add extra decorations throughout the pub – as well as offer a traditional Christmas dinner to punters.

He said that he hadn’t heard much about the ban further up the country, but said it would be ‘absolutely ridiculous’ if it was rolled out in Plymouth. “Of course, [we would be affected] if the smoking ban was brought in,” he said. “We’ve traded for four months in the last 13, we’ve followed all the guidelines closely and waited to reopen until people were allowed inside, if they brought in a smoking ban for outdoors, that would kill us.

“It’s hard enough as it is is.” Ultan says it would be understandable if it was no smoking at tables while people were eating, but not just generally in an outdoor pub area. “Not as many people smoke [nowadays] as they used to..

What’s next? No drinking? Crazy”

“I really hope Plymouth city council don’t [introduce the ban].” Plymouth Pubwatch chairman, Richard Smith, echoes Mr Moran’s concerns, and although said he is a non-smoker himself, explains how it would affect venues in the city. He said: “We’ve got enough to be getting on with at the moment trying to run safe environments for our customers and staff to come and enjoy.

“Adding more laws that we would have to enforce would be too much pressure for us to be able to deal with. “It’s a step too far for us to be able to enforce it. As a publican it’s a step too far for us to be able to enforce properly.”

He continued: “The biggest question for me would be how would we enforce this? How would authorities enforce it? We’ve got licencing laws, Covid laws, numerous other things we’re having to do.

“It’s putting a lot of pressure on management at different sites across the city.” A spokesperson for Plymouth City Council said: “”Smoking tobacco remains one of the biggest risks to our city’s health, and reducing smoking rates is one of the key goals of Thrive Plymouth. Stopping smoking is the best thing a person can do to improve their health and anyone who wants support to stop, including the use of vapes, can find it here. www.oneyouplymouth.co.uk/stop-smoking

“With COVID-19, we are encouraging people to be outside as much as possible.

We would encourage businesses to consider all of their customers when they are planning how they can support them to be outside more.”