The introduction of smoking rooms in pubs and private members’ clubs would be welcomed by a majority of the British public, according to a new Populus survey. The poll for smokers’ rights group Forest found that a majority of adults also oppose bans on smoking in public parks and private vehicles.
The survey found that 57 per cent of those surveyed think smoking bans have gone too far, saying they believe pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room to accommodate smokers.
The numbers have increased since a similar poll by ComRes conducted for the Institute of Economic Affairs in December 2014. On that occasion 51 per cent believed “owners of pubs and private members clubs should be allowed to have a private room for people to smoke in if they want to.”
The stance taken by the public closely matches the libertarian policy proposed by UKIP at the recent General Election. The manifesto called for amending the smoking ban “to give pubs and clubs the choice to open smoking rooms provided they are properly ventilated and physically-separated from from non-smoking areas.”
The anti-smoking lobby claims overwhelming public support for the ban, but they normally offer a binary option merely asking whether should smoking be banned or not. In fact some sort of accommodation for smokers has long been popular. As Anthony Wells of YouGov explained in 2005, two years before the current ban was finalised across the UK:
“The simple picture is this – if you conduct polls that ask a straight yes or no question about whether people would approve of a complete smoking ban in pubs, about two-thirds say yes. If, on the other hand, you ask people what they would like done about smoking in pubs, and give them a list of options such as a complete ban, or making all pubs have a no-smoking area, or better ventilation or so on, then most people opt for making pubs have no smoking sections (or making pubs no smoking with special smoking sections, which amounts to much the same thing) and against having an overall ban.”