I have been following with great interest the debate raging in your newsletter over the issue of smoking in restaurants.
We are equally worried in Great Britain about the problem, and also about the threat of Government legislation.
Smoking in restaurants or bars is a social pursuit with antisocial consequences for non-smokers and for staff. However, if it is banned completely trade will suffer as it would appear to be a myth that smokers will simply refrain and continue to eat out. They have other options which they will pursue, and restaurants and bars will lose out.
I am the spokesman for the Restaurateurs Association of Great Britain on smoking related issues, and we are concerned to see that a Voluntary Code of Conduct is adopted here. This should improve conditions for customers and staff, whilst hopefully achieving the aims of the Government - without the inevitable complications that legislation would introduce.
We also believe strongly in freedom of choice, and it has been shown elsewhere that you can bring in all the laws that you like, but they are either ignored - as in France - or they are strictly applied, in which case the customer votes with his feet and just goes somewhere else where he can smoke.
However, we believe that it is vital for a restaurant to adopt one of two options:
1. They should install an effective ventilation or air conditioning system - as we have at my restaurant Porters - with sufficient air movements per hour, so that smoking does not cause a problem.
I happen to be a reformed smoker of twenty years standing, and therefore loath cigarette smoke, particularly when I am eating. But in my own place I can happily sit next door to a smoker without any difficulty.
2. Or they simply set aside an area for non-smokers, which must be of sufficient size and far enough from smokers that it actually works. Failing that then they should consider the possibility of going completely non-smoking.
We are certain that a voluntary code would actually work better for all parties. The last thing that we need is legislation, and we believe that the British Government is now coming round to this view.
Richard, Earl of Bradford
I have been in every part of our beloved industry for now over 12 years, started at 15 years old. Much to the unhappiness of my parents, that's exactly when I started smoking. Have you noticed, that is is all right, when an employee, might it be a server or bartender or cook, goes to his supervisor and says "I need a smoke-break", but that is simply unheard of to hear somebody ask for a "clean-air-break". That was the reason for me to start this habit. I have been a waitress, that has never been bothered by smoke. I have recently started working as a bartender in a local hotel, the only place I have ever been employed at where the bartender cant smoke with the customers. Most guests around here were surprised, when I had to say, sorry, no thank you, I will have to go outside for that. I worked with both smoking and non smoking servers, nobody ever voiced a concern about this. Granted, the only place to smoke in our facility is our Sports bar, down the hall and way out of the way of restaurant and Lobby. Still, I would estimate a good 80% of all people that I had the pleasure to work with in this industry smokes.
Now, that I have been promoted to Director of Sales & Catering, I run into the problem all the time. Not for non smokers being bothered by smokers, but by guests that want to smoke and have to leave the building. A Quote: "I spent thousands of dollars for this meeting, I want my guests to be able to smoke if they want to." And this attitude I hear more often than not! Do you see any way of dealing with this the right way? Frankly, I don't mind either way, I don't smoke in non smoking friends houses or cars. But how do fix the dilemma, when all you want to do is "pleasing the customer".
And on a minor note, it should not be the government to decide this, it should be a choice of the individual, just like everything else in life. If I choose to smoke in a restaurant, then you can choose not to sit next to me, or choose to not frequent a smoking establishment. But please quit treating me as a lower form of being, that has to be told what to do. Of course we are educated about smoking risks, but we CHOOSE to do it. Why? Well, that's my choice!
My name is Chris Davidson, and I recently opened a two storey, 140 person capacity bar and grill called...don't laugh...Desperate Dick's & Durty Nellie's Bar & Grill...subtitled in our sign on top of the restaurant reads..."Originally the home of warm beer and poor food"
Our feature is homestyle meals...like chicken and dumplings (unheard of in Canada), gigantic beef ribs and chicken platter, slow cooked Prime Rib, fresh baked Red River cereal bread and biscuits, and much more.
Our main floor is expansive with the second floor being a mezzanine which overlooks the bottom area. We have two full service bars and a licensed deck for 30 persons, which overlooks Pelican Lake.
I guess the main reason I wrote this was to state the fact that we are a NON-SMOKING RESTAURANT AND BAR. This response to us developing this has been weighed to the positive. The interior decor, designer tiles, and carpet, let alone the smell, will be preserved almost indefinitely with our NO-SMOKING POLICY.
In brief...C'mon..Smoker or not...who likes dining or even drinking in an atmosphere which is thick with lethargic fumes?
Yours in Canada,
My husband and I moved to Houston a couple of years ago after finishing graduate school at the University of Texas in Austin. While in Austin, the city enacted a smoking ban in all restaurants. The result was wonderful, smoke free dining everywhere---from the most posh French restaurant to the ever-popular 24-hour pancake house. We were in dining heaven--no stinky smoke to annoy us, no ashtrays giving off that offense, trashy smell, and no more waiting longer for a "non-smoking" seat. When we moved to Houston, it was a complete shock---Houston has no smoking ban in restaurants. Smoke would drift over to the so-called "non-smoking" side. Some Friday nights, we would come home smelling as if we had been out to a nightclub. What a pity since we did visit some rather good restaurants. Well, we have since moved back to Austin, and enjoy going out to eat once again--smoke free.
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