The national smoking ban has been a real problem for many pub landlords since it was ushered into law in July 2007. Smokers can’t smoke inside anymore, which means they have to pop out to have a cigarette whenever the need arises. That’s all well and good in the summer, but what about when it’s raining, cold and damp or even snowing? Many have called the ban anti-social, and that’s certainly true on long winter nights.
However, one landlord in Chobham, Surrey has come up with an innovative solution. Why not allow people to use electronic cigarettes in his pub? They’re completely legal to use indoors so no one is breaking the law, and there’s a real opportunity here to get takings back on the up again.
30% drop in takings
The smart-thinking landlord, Frank Booth, runs The Sun Inn. He got his idea after attending the National Pub Show in Birmingham and wasted no time in putting his plans into action. He hasn’t just allowed e-cig smokers to use their e-cigs inside his pub though. He’s actually selling the e-cigs as well.
In common with many other pub landlords, Frank saw his takings slide when the ban came into force. It’s one thing to go outside and smoke a cigarette when the weather is good. However it seems many smokers would rather stay at home and smoke during the winter than go to their local.
So Frank did something smart. He ordered a batch of the e-cigarettes and now has them available to buy alongside a pint in his pub. He thinks this could be a great opportunity to bring in some extra income. And of course, it might encourage some more punters to leave their cigarettes at home and use the e-cigs when they go out for a drink instead.
Will it encourage real smokers to try their luck?
It’s a possibility. However there are some very real differences between e-cigs and the real thing. While the e-cigarettes Mr Booth has for sale are designed to look like real cigarettes, they don’t have to be lit. They don’t produce smoke either – just a vapour that does no harm to anyone else nearby, unlike second-hand smoke. So if anyone did try and light up a real cigarette as a result of the e-cigs being on sale, they’d be caught out pretty quickly.
A spokeswoman for Smokefree Surrey, Karen Simmonds, pointed out the highly-addictive nature of nicotine. Since e-cigs still have nicotine in them – albeit in a much-reduced amount – going cold turkey is the best route. “Stop smoking altogether,” says Karen. Of course, anyone trying to stop might well switch to e-cigs and gradually reduce the amount of nicotine they ingest. The cartridge refills for electronic cigarettes are made available with varying amount of nicotine in them, giving people a choice to reduce their intake gradually.
Clearly Mr Booth is hoping his takings will improve. However, his idea is certainly more sociable than the alternative.
Would you like your pub to sell electronic cigarettes? Let us know what you think below