As the National Smoking Ban (in England) on July 1st looms, London’s gay venues are preparing for the change.
Some businesses across the country are predicting job losses and drops in revenue, claiming that the Scottish ban had this effect.
Brewer Scottish Newcastle currently envisages a £10 million drop in profits as they fear smokers will abandon non-smoking venues.
The ban will prohibit smoking in all indoor public places such as pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and private members clubs, as well as some partially enclosed outdoor locations such as football grounds and railway platforms.
Those caught smoking in an area where it is forbidden may be fined £50, whilst venue owners can be fined up to £2,500 for failing to comply with the ban.
Some venues, however, welcome the ban. Elaine, owner, manager and resident DJ of Chocolate Lounge, told PinkNews.co.uk today of her extensive preparations:
“On the night before the ban comes in we will be holding an event for smokers called ‘The Last Fag in the Bar’; basically, it will be the biggest smoke-out ever.”
This event will coincide with London Pride on June 30th, when gay bars are expected to be at full capacity.
“In the meantime, we are providing customers with lots of information from local government – posters and leaflets and so on – which tell people when the ban will start and the legal penalties.”
Chocolate Lounge will also be forming “support groups” for smokers, which Elaine hopes will prevent smokers staying away from smoke-free bars, and will encourage and help them to give up.
For the more dedicated smokers, Chocolate Lounge will also be providing an outdoor space for smokers once the ban begins.
Elaine told PinkNews.co.uk that she felt, in terms of profits, the ban “would not really be a problem” and the venue “does not have a huge smoking fraternity”. In fact, she hopes that more non-smokers will come out, no longer discouraged by second-hand smoke.