Historic pub puts ban on smoking
First smoke ban in city-centre pub
Move ‘due to customer demand’
Trade group welcomes ‘choice’
ONE of the capital’s oldest pub has become the first city centre bar to ban smoking.
Two pubs, the Lauriston Farm Brewers Fayre and the Sheep’s Heid at Duddingston, have already banned smoking, but the White Hart Inn, in the Grassmarket, is the only pub in the heart of Edinburgh to crack down on cigarettes.
The same pub this summer became the first bar in the area to ban stag and hen parties from its premises.
Rachel Boyd, manager of the White Hart, which dates back to the early 16th century and was frequented by Robert Burns, said: "We decided to ban smoking due to customer demand, and it just seems to make a better environment for everybody."
She said she was planning to build a special area for smokers outside, with a terrace covered by a canopy and heaters.
"I’ve trialled it over the past month or so and we’ve had some really positive feedback. The atmosphere on Friday and Saturday night is great. You can see the other end of the bar clearly, can breathe clean air and even the smokers are accepting it very well.
"They can go outside for a cigarette and come back into a nice environment for a drink or food."
She added: "We have a lot of musicians who perform here, and even the smokers among them are completely supportive of the ban as they realise it’s a better place for them to sing.
"I’ve had lots of positive comments and people are even travelling from Fife to drink in a smoke-free pub.
"It’s the oldest pub in Edinburgh and it’s quite good that even though we’ve got the old traditions, we can also move with the times.
"I think in the future, smoking is eventually bound to be banned everywhere, so I’m being realistic."
Alistair Don, president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, welcomed the move.
"We would be happy if there were smoke-free pubs because it gives people the choice and reflects customer demand," he said.
"We would like to help the Scottish Executive to create a smoke-free or part smoke-free society."
Matt Dale, of the Grassmarket Traders Association, said: "At the very least it offers a choice and gives people who don’t want to be in a smoky environment the chance to enjoy themselves.
"The White Hart has led the way in a couple of other things, such as the ban on stag and hen nights, and it’s nice to see they are doing this as well. I think since they banned stag and hen nights, their customer base has changed and are probably more loyal as a result."
The White Hart’s ban on stag and hen nights came after politicians made a call for the Capital to follow the lead taken in Dublin, where a string of pubs and clubs teamed up to ban large groups of revellers amid fears that they were putting other tourists off. The latest ban also follows in the footsteps of bars in Ireland, where smoking in public places was outlawed earlier this year.
Simon Clerk, director of Forest, the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco, said he was in favour of greater choice for smokers and non-smokers.
"Pubs are private businesses and if they choose to ban smoking, that is entirely up to them. It shows the hospitality industry can be self-regulated."
He added: "We wish them well because it provides more choice for non- smokers. The only thing we’re against is a blanket ban, which would provide smokers with no choice. The more choice there is for everyone, the better."
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Tuesday 21 May 2013
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