Most people are aware of the ongoing dramatic rate of pub closures but if you assume this is due to a new generation switching over to late night bars and nightclubs, you’d be wrong.
There was a time, just ten years ago, when going to after hours venues could be a glamorous affair with that risqué feel where those creatures of the night would socialise. You could be at a table with a cool glass of bourbon and coke in one hand and a burning cigarette in the other having all the time you want as you have fun with friends and the opposite sex. Today a typical night is very different. Instead, you’d be holding a drink in some hazy plastic cup with thoughts of whether to go for your next smoke or not, while indoctrinated paranoid security watch you don’t even pick your nose. Eventually you’d decide to find your way outside through endless stairs and corridors to then be reminded to either down your expensive plastic drink or risk leaving it behind with the other cocktail of drinks on some sticky and drenched table. Next thing you know you’re shuffled along a cattle grid in near zero temperatures and coatless due to the cloakroom policy. Your only thoughts now are to finish that cigarette and get back inside. Once back inside if your drink hasn’t been nicked your table definitely has and so has one of your friends who was made to leave for managing to be happy. And so the whole torturous process repeats itself again and again while the whole venue is just one huge sweaty rugby scrub attempting to get in and out.
It is obvious the UK smoking bans never took into consideration the nightlife industry as well as the pub industry and members clubs. To say the ban was implemented in the name of health and safety is in complete contradiction with reality. This has led from the one so called problem of “second hand smoke” being solved only to then create an endless amount of other problems including noise disturbance and violence. Instead of progress coming in the form of ventilation as in other countries, delusional UK local authorities are answering this health and safety disaster with yet more and more legislation, with the responsibility of enforcement being put on the nightlife industry. For quite a while the industry has being playing ball with local authorities putting the state before its customers, but now even the industry is saying they can’t take any more. With more and more demands for more and more security while being made to sell less and less drinks, late night bars and clubs are struggling to make any profit even if they do achieve managing the logistical nightmare handed down to them. It’s no wonder then that most late night bars and clubs are now in serious need of refurbishment with many more simply going under.
If you assume this article reflects the past through rose tinted glasses and the present with exaggerated pessimism, go abroad to more liberal countries and you will notice the difference instantly. While many countries have exemptions for their smoking bans, in many others local authorities have come to their senses in refusing to enforce such an illogical and oppressive policy after a certain time, something our own local authorities should learn from.