New study: 76% of the North East hospitality trade back smoke free areas

Thursday 20 July 2000


Press Release
Embargo: Thursday 20 July 2000, 00.01hrs
Smoke free areas are good for business and popular with customers. New research in the North East of England has found that providing smoke free areas is popular with customers and often boosts trade. Owners are also urging the rest of the hospitality industry to do the same.

The survey into over 40 pubs, restaurants and hotels was carried out by Dr. Richard Edwards, of the department of Epidemology and Public Health at Newcastle University for North East Against Tobacco (NEAT). The study found that over three quarters (76%) of businesses (including 8 out of 12 pubs) judged their no-smoking areas to be popular with customers. None thought the policy was unpopular. Even in businesses where over half the customers were smokers, most owners reported that their no-smoking policy was popular. Many businesses had evidence from customer feedback and surveys to support their views.

An amazing 25% of businesses reported that the introduction of smoke free areas had boosted trade. The vast majority reported a neutral effect with no increase or decrease. Even in pubs, 58 per cent of publicans reported that smoke free areas increased their trade. No pubs reported a decline in trade.

88% of businesses recommended providing smoke-free accommodation for customers to other members of the hospitality trade. None advised against it. 91 per cent (Eleven out of 12 publicans) recommend providing smoke-free accommodation to other publicans. Mr. Russell Wilson, manager of the New Ship Inn, South Shields said: “I am delighted with the response to our smoke-free area and so are my customers. I’d certainly recommend other pub owners to try a smoke-free area.”

The report author Dr. Edwards and spokesperson for NEAT, said: “This survey provides clear evidence that no-smoking policies are practical, popular with customers and profitable for publicans and other proprietors in the hospitality trade. No smoking areas are more likely to increase rather than decrease trade. Businesses in the hospitality trade should have no fears about introducing smoke-free areas.

Edwards, of NEAT, added: “I believe this survey will encourage proprietors to take the plunge and give their customers what they want – the choice of eating and drinking away from smoky atmospheres.”

Clive Bates, director of ASH, said: “The evidence is further encouragement for publicans and other proprietors in the hospitality trade to give smoke-free areas a go. Clearly the survey shows that offering a smoke free area, attracts non-smokers and all of those potential customers who want to enjoy a relaxing pint or meal in a pleasant atmosphere.”

Notes to the Editor
The research was conducted by Dr. Richard Edwards of Newcastle University and a team of health promotion specialists from across the North East. The survey covered 41businesses in the hospitality trade in Newcastle, Teesside, North Tyneside, Sunderland, Northumberland, Gateshead and South Shields and included pubs, restaurants, cafes, hotels, cinemas and theatres. All the businesses provided a variety of smoke-free accommodation for their customers – some being totally smoke-free, and others having separate smoke free rooms or designated smoke free areas.

Contact Clive Bates 020 7739 5902 (wk), 0468 791 237 (m) 020 8800 1336 (h)
Richard Edwards 0191 222 8899, 07990 806254 (mobile)
ISDN for radio interviews: 020 7729 1047 (please ring 020 7739 5902 to arrange an interview time)

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