Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Licence to let people smoke in Greek hospitality venues

Under pressure from over 400 penalty notices and who knows how many more breaches of the law since last September, Greece will shortly announce the introduction of smoking licences, bringing an end to an experiment in smoking bans that the authorities really thought would work this time round.

I said earlier that I don't really think licences are a solution. I still don't think they are, but if I'm honest if the opportunity arose to apply such a thing in Scotland tomorrow I'd go for it. Anything to prove that smoking facilities have market value, which many anti-smokers have awkwardly tried to deny from day one. Anything to reverse this deplorable situation that gives smokers and their friends nowhere to light up anywhere in the country, in spite of their contribution to the health budget and council taxes.

Better that smoking indoors isn't seen as a right that one has to purchase from the council. It's a natural right, or a God-given right, or a common law right, depending on your point of view. Tobacco is legal, and anyone can say that they don't want it on their premises – there is no reason to be heavy handed. However much money they spend trying to persuade us that smoking damages the body beyond repair within minutes (more than anything else?), the inherent injustice of the smoking ban remains: it's a weapon to denormalise smoking, and, by association, smokers.


Anonymous said...

"Under pressure from over 400 penalty notices and who knows how many more breaches of the law"
The number of 400 penalty notices is just a joke!
100% of Bars and clubs serving alcohol,
95% of coffee shops (cafeterias in Greek)
and 80% of restaurants and taverns was disobeying to the antismoking law permitting to their customers to smoke.
In front of these facts, Greek minister of health Andreas Loverdos last December announced that the antismoking law simply doesn't work and that the ministry of health has to rethink some aspects of the blanket ban.

Giorgos P.
A happy smoker from Greece :-)

Anonymous said...

Ideally, property owners should be free to allow smoking; however I thought up a pragmatic solution which would appeal to pub owners, non smokers and anti smokers. Bars would bid for a fixed number of licences in their area. The proceeds would be shared out among the no smoking bars. This would ensure smoking bars were not more profitable, anti smokers would be happy that smokers were giving them money and smokers would be happy to pay a few pence extra per drink for some peace and not having to be in the company of these neurotics and health obsessives.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous ... I think this solution would only benefit the chains and companies rather than smaller independents: even a share of the proceeds might not compensate small bars for not being able to cater for smokers while the strongest people on the market will be able to cater for them.

Even though the pubcos haven't fought the smoking ban they would push up the price of licences at the expense of their competitors, wouldn't they?

Anonymous said...

Anon 12.04 again. If the market works, small bars should be in the same position as large pubcos. Imagine a town where only two pubs are permitted and one of them can allow smoking. Both pubs think there is a market for a smoking pub. I imagine a smoking pub would be more profitable, so each pub has to decide how much money they would give the other for the privilege of allowing smoking. If one is owned by a pubco and the other is independent, this makes no difference. If the pubco pub wants smokers, it has to outbid and give just sufficent money to the independent to compensate it for not allowing smoking.

Belinda said...

I don't see how an independent could possibly be in a position to compete with a chain. The independent might be a small bar with 80 per cent its customers smoking. The other bar might have four spare rooms and a normal customer base of 40 per cent but be near enough to the independent to steal its customers. Because it has competitive advantage it can afford more money for a licence. True the independent is being paid for the loss of its customers but this seems far from ideal.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12.04 again. Apologies Belinda, I think I understand what you are getting at. I should have said that the bid would be per square foot of smoking area, rather than for a pub.

Belinda said...

Seems that not everyone has heard that a licensing system will be introduced, including the Health Minister: http://www.ana-mpa.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=9497579&maindocimg=9495053&service=6&showLink=true

Mark Wadsworth said...

I agree with Anon 12.04, having independently arrived at the same conclusion years ago.

Let's not get het up about this big pub-vs-small pub debate (that seems typically leftie to me), on the whole there's one pub per thousand population, so in a typical borough there'll be three hundred pubs, and a sensible council would auction off (say) twenty licences for large pubs, twenty for medium sized and twenty for small pubs (or whatever).

Anonymous said...

The point here seems to be that Private Businesses should have the say as to be smoking or non smoking venues,just about the whole of the EU still offer choice for the business and the smoker,why should any business have to pay in any way for its customer base,if one pub wants to have smokers and another pub does not,so be it,as we know market forces will decide which pub is the more profitable.The pub Industry are calling for a Reform of the smoking ban,it is up to the government to listen,it is all about business and employment and should not be about non smokers and Their wants.