Wednesday, September 9, 1998 Published at 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Smokers get militant over ban
Smokers want to enjoy a cigarette with their beer
Smokers are hitting back at increasing restrictions on their habit by threatening to boycott pubs and restaurants with no smoking policies.
Smokers' rights group the Fair Cigarette Tax Campaign claims the entertainment industry could lose millions of pounds if it clamps down on smoking.
A survey carried out by the pressure group found that more than 35% of smokers would stop drinking in their local pub if it introduced a smoking ban and one in 10 would visit the pub less often.
The survey also found that more than one in four smokers would not dine at their favourite restaurant if it banned smoking, while one in seven would eat there less often.
And 30% of those interviewed said they would stop visiting local shopping centres with no-smoking policies if there was a convenient alternative.
Fair Cigarette Tax Campaign co-ordinator Eddie Cassidy said smokers should not passively accept the imposition of bans.
He said Britain's 15m smokers made a huge contribution to the national economy.
Second class citizens
He said: "We spend around £150bn a year on consumer goods and services, and we are increasingly treated as second class citizens.
"This is why we are encouraging smokers to fight back against what we see as unreasonable restrictions.
"Our survey shows that smoking bans will make smokers go elsewhere to spend their money. This will be bad news for the pubs, restaurants, and shopping centres concerned, and it could mean lost jobs."
Mr Cassidy said the group had written to 550 MPs to complain about intolerant smoking policies.
He said: "We want them to look at the rights of the smoker as well as the rights of non-smokers. All we are asking is that rooms are set aside for smokers."
The Fair Cigarette Tax Campaign, which was set up to find out what the adult smoker felt about the high level of cigarette tax, has also produced a smoker's crib-card.
The card, called Help for Smokers on the Spot, enables them to counter generalisations from non-smokers, and highlights the power of the smoker's pound.
The survey of 1,001 adult smokers was carried out by NOP.
Clive Bates, director of anti-smoking group ASH, said: "This is a scaremongering story by a tobacco industry front group.
"No-one is seriously talking about a complete ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants.
"What they should have asked is whether separate smoking and non-smoking areas should be set up in pubs and restaurants.
"We reckon that would have strong support from both smokers and non-smokers."