Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Smoke on the water

Well, you'll not find it in the pub anymore, anyway.

In response to Jean's comment. We appear to have survived the first few days of the Scotland-wide ban on smoking in substantially-enclosed public places. There is a great deal of bad feeling locally about the ban, but fortunately for us, it appears that blame is being placed squarely where it belongs: on the politicians. As we're expected to police the ban (after all, publicans are used to dealing with violent situations, aren't they?) and deal with any unpleasantness, we had been a bit worried. The enforcers have been told not to confront anyone in case they provoke a "situation" (apparently they are supposed to follow a smoker home and then send a letter fining them for enfringement) but we're just expected to get on with it!

The ire of the locals is actually less focussed on the pub than on what they see as a completely unjustified invasion of their homes. If you have a home help, or cleaner, or any tradesman, working in your house, you are not permitted to smoke for the duration of their visit, and for two hours before they arrive. As one wag put it yesterday: If all they can tell you is "8am to 8pm" for a visit from a council workman, what do they expect?

The true test of compliance will be on Saturday, when people are less sober, and may simply forget, or may push the limits with smoking as they do with just about every other house rule. We'll also get a better feel for the effects on custom, as those who come in through the week would probably be there even if we didn't have a roof: the habit is so strong.

The details of the ban are a tad on the rediculous side. Smoking is banned in substantially-enclosed public places. According to the executive, this is as plain as the nose on your face, and means that if something has a roof, it has to have at least 50% of its wall space missing, not including doors and windows. Sadly, it's about as clear as mud, leaving the local enforcers (environmental health) to interpret as they see fit.

The result, here in the Borders at least, is the following:
1. See above for definition of a substantially enclosed space.
2. Add: any wall within 1.5 metres of your structure counts as part of the wall area for purposes of calculation
3. A "structure" can include plants, hedges etc

Yes, that's right. If I put a few plants (which actually absorb pollutants) in my beer garden, they will be used in the calculation. if your garden hedge has grown a few inches, you could inadvertantly infringe the ban, as the open area has been reduced....


As the beer garden is actually a courtyard, we're a bit stuck on how to fit an awning which has two sides open, and isn't closer than 1.5m to any other wall. Environmental health suggested a triangular awning in one corner. I declined to point out the impossibility of getting the longest side of a triangle to be greater than 50% of the total.


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