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Clubs fuming over smoke ban

CLUBS in Dewsbury are bracing themselves to be hit hard by the smoking ban, fearing people will drink at home. The ban on smoking in enclosed public places comes into force in England on July 1.

Legislation is already in place in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Peter Waters, steward at the Irish National Club, Westtown, said: "The ban will definitely hit us hard but to what extent we just don't know yet.

"We have regulars who have been smoking for 50 years and certainly won't appreciate not being able to smoke in the club.

"We were hoping to be exempt from the ban as we are a private members club but unfortunately this hasn't been the case."

Alan Midwood, steward at the Morton House Club in Thornhill Lees, said he was expecting an 11 per cent drop in sales, based on figures in Scotland, where the ban has been in place since March. He said: "I have resigned myself to the ban now but still predict a significant drop in the club's sales.

"We are already constructing a smoking shelter outside for when the ban come in which will hopefully reduce some of the impact.

"I don't think we will see the effect of the ban immediately as it is being implemented in summer when people are happy to stand outside and smoke. It's when it's cold and wet that we will see the real difference."

Secretary at Earlsheaton Central Working Men's Club, Alistair Kilburn, is no stranger to smoking bans.

He said: "I worked in Ireland for five years over the time when the ban came in there and the only sales affected by the ban were those of alcohol.

"Cigarette sales were just as high as they were just smoking in their homes rather than their locals. It's all nonsense.

"Clubs won't just lose the business of the smoker but also their family and friends who won't want to come for a drink if their friend or husband can't."

But Ian Murray, landlord of the Black Bull pub, in Market Place, Dewsbury, said he expected the ban to have a positive effect on business and has been taking steps to build a seating area outside. He said: "When the ban comes in, it will make sure that everyone is catered for.

"Smokers will have a nice enclosed area of their own while non-smokers will be able to relax in a smoke-free environment."

Smokers can expect a 50 fine if they are caught smoking in pubs, clubs and workplaces and those in charge of the premises could be faced with fines of up to 2,500 if they ignore the ban.