Page last updated at 16:18 GMT, Thursday, 17 April 2008 17:18 UK

Smoke ban threat to social clubs

A CIU club in the 1960s
CIU clubs were at their height in the 1960s

Up to 15 working men's clubs in County Durham could be forced to close over the next 18 months because of a chronic shortage of customers.

A combination of the smoking ban and the availability of cheap booze in supermarkets is being blamed.

The Club and Institute Union (CIU) has 60 affiliated clubs in the county.

A spokesman for the Durham branch of the organisation - founded in 1862 - blamed the government for not allowing smoking to continue in members' clubs.

Secretary Mick McGlasham said: "The reason for all this is simply the amount of legislation that has come through over the past two years.

'Staying away'

"The smoking legislation is having a serious effect on our clubs. Some of our clubs are up to 1,500 a week down.

"People are just not going through the doors and it is because of the smoking legislation and also the cheap alcohol you can get in supermarkets."

He said that if people wanted to smoke they had to stand outside in the street in all weather.

"The government and the CIU could have sat down and come to an agreement and allowed people to still smoke in a room set aside for the purpose," Mr McGlasham added.

Henry Solly founded the CIU as a place where working class men could socialise. It was at its peak in the 1960s.

It now claims to be the largest not-for-profit social entertainment and leisure organisation in the UK and has about four million members.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific