April 30, 2020

Brian, Ireland: “Why I’m in favor of well-ventilated smoking rooms in pubs”

“Separate smoking rooms would benefit clients, owners and neighbours…” READ ON →

As a male 27 year old ex-smoker from Ireland, I feel my government should know and acknowledge the following liberal ideas for our pubs. I believe the following, open minded argument for the Irish minister of health may give him another point of view on the fair and non-discriminative way of handing our second-hand-smoke situation.

I’m writing to you today from Cork about second-hand smoke and something that would benefit many of the gastronomic services to overcome smoking in doorways, outside open windows and some other outdoor areas. In 2004 Ireland was the first country to fully ban smoking inside the work place and public areas (unless a hotel room). I was a smoker for nearly 10 years (have been vaping) but have since quit traditional smoking when I took up exercise last year.

I have visited and lived in a few different EU countries that have tackled second-hand smoke in different ways. I found that the installation of a specially ventilated room stopped smoking in areas where non-smokers shared spaces with smokers. Particularly in Belgium, Slovenia and Denmark I’ve seen these rooms work to the non-smokers advantage. The rooms I’ve sat in and even spoke to the staff about had to meet extremely strict criteria to be allowed to be operated and installed. Most rooms met the following expectations from there health inspections:

– only allowed to take up 25-30% or under of the total customer surface area
– Nobody under the age of 18 was allowed to enter the room
– No consumption of food (hot or cold)
– No TV’s, pool tables, gambling machines, live entertainment, etc…
– No service from staff was allowed to take place unless cleaning when the room was empty and the room was fully ventilated after 15 minutes.

The small pubs that had a ventilated rooms showed that nobody was smoking on the footpath or just outside the door. There were little or no ashtrays on the tables outside the front of the business and there was a lot less noise pollution at night.

I believe if people are to smoke (and they will), it should be in a controlled room. Where the smoke is captured by high airflow which is then brought into a filtration system, then the smoke particles are eliminated. After this process, it recirculates clean air back into the specialised room.

I believe these systems are not going to work in some gastronomy businesses that already have large beer gardens or have a covered outdoor smoking area for large crowds of people. I know it would fit into the local or small pubs with no option of an outdoor space, only the footpath or a few seats outside the front door. For example, pubs with a basic bar licence, owner run, makes under a certain amount of revenue per year and doesn’t have an outdoor space. There is a huge number of businesses that fall into that category in Ireland today where an option like this would benefit everyone.

In ways, it looks like we’d be going backwards on our smoking ban. But, I truly and honestly believe it would be a leap forward in future prevention of a future smoke-free generation (adults not smoking around children and teens outside), it would 100% benefit the prevention of secondhand smoke for vulnerable people entering/exiting the pub, eliminating the constant issue of cigarette butts on our footpaths and roads, noise pollution in our residential areas and an increase of revenue from both smokers and non-smokers where both would be accepting of this liberal decision by the Irish government.

— Brian

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Photo by Florian GIORGIO on Unsplash