Een felle reactie brak deze week los toen Tim Martin, directeur van een grotere pub-keten, zich uitsprak vóór een algemeen rookverbod in de horeca.
De rest van de branchorganisaties viel massaal over hem heen en pleitte vóór het behoud van het uitgangspunt van zelfregulering zoals dat nu in het Verenigd Koninkrijk geldt.
“Tim Martin needs to put his brain in gear before he opens his mouth. People will lose massive amounts of money.”
The outspoken chairman of the high street pub chain claims the government should ban smoking in all pubs by January 2006 to cater for the three-quarters of the population who don’t smoke.
But in the meantime, Mr Martin is not prepared to initiate a ban in his own pubs claiming it would be “suicide in the absence of a nationwide ban”.
“Going it alone is not a viable option in the pub world,” he said.
Mr Martin’s controversial announcement earlier this week has been strongly criticised by trade leaders and licensees who have been working hard to provide choice and stave off any government bans.
Tony Payne, chief executive of the Federation of Licensed Victuallers’ Associations, said: “If he wants to ban smoking then good luck to him but he shouldn’t talk on behalf of the whole trade. Smaller pubs around the country will close if there is a ban.”
Nick Bish, chairman of the industry’s Charter Group, has been working tirelessly to promote a voluntary approach through the use of signage and ventilation. He was surprised by Mr Martin’s support of government intervention.
“He needs to look beyond his own business,” he said. “There are many operators who do fear a ban would result in a significant loss of trade and I don’t think we need to take that risk, especially as there’s an alternative available to us now which is managing the answer ourselves.”