BBC News


Page last updated at 11:23 GMT, Wednesday, 23 May 2007 12:23 UK

Oops, look what's happened...

Smoker, child, power station and Ainsley Harriott
The ban has resulted in some unexpected winners and loser

By Denise Winterman
BBC News Magazine

Like most things in life, when the smoking ban comes in force in England on 1 July, it will have unintended consequences. So who and what are the unexpected winners and losers?

The law of unintended consequences is always at work, in every area of daily life. The results can be good, bad and just plain odd.

On 1 July, smoking in enclosed public places will be banned across the UK
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales already have such a ban; England's ban starts 1 July
The Magazine will count down the weeks with a series of articles about the impact of the ban on life in Britain

Put simply, the actions of people - and organisations - always have effects that aren't anticipated. The subject fascinates academics and countless books have been written about it.

The law governs our lives and nowhere are the effects more pronounced than in government, where often the consequences can prove more powerful than the legislation they are a result of.

Nothing in life is exempt, so what are the unintended consequences of the smoking ban?


You're down the pub, all your mates have nipped out for a cigarette, you don't smoke but don't want to sit on your own - what do you do? Join them. For some, standing outside while mates smoke has resulted in them taking up the habit.

"If the smoking ban in Scotland had not been introduced I would still be a non-smoker," says Andy Hughes of Edinburgh, where the ban came into force in March last year. "I started because I was being left in pubs and clubs alone for long periods of time, while the rest of my group were outside chatting and having a smoke.


"I put up with it for a few weeks but in the end I decided to join them. Being an asthmatic, I had always been against smoking. I never used to let anyone smoke in my car or house. When someone smoked in my company in a pub, I couldn't wait until they had finished their cigarette. It was still something I had a real dislike of and a habit I considered to be disgusting.

"Now I'll regularly smoke up to 20 cigarettes on a night out. I still don't smoke when not out having a drink and I hope it stays that way. There's no doubt a lot of good has come from the smoking ban, it's a lot more pleasurable having a drink in a smoke-free atmosphere and I'm sure healthier for bar staff and non-smokers, but for myself it has come at a price."


If you can't smoke at the pub and you don't want a fag standing outside, where are you going to light up? At home? The jury is still out as to whether the ban will result in children being exposed to more passive smoking at home, but one study of the US suggests it could be the case.

Economists at University College London studied the direct effect on passive smoking from different kinds of bans. They concluded parents smoke more at home if they can't in bars or restaurants. Other bans, such as those on trains, shopping areas, or workplaces, do not appear to result in children being exposed to more harmful fumes at home.

Opponents of the ban are quick to jump on the argument, while ASH Scotland - a voluntary organisation campaigning for effective tobacco control legislation - says there is no published, peer-reviewed evidence to support the argument.

Edinburgh University is now undertaking research on the issue, which will published later in the year. Every year more than 17,000 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital in Britain suffering from illnesses related to passive smoking, according to the Royal College of Physicians.


With punters who smoke being forced outside for a fag, pubs are keen to make them as comfortable as possible so they go back in and spend more money. Thousands are being spent by breweries on outdoor smoking areas.

Dublin cafe
Outdoor heaters have been criticised
Keeping the chill off smokers is high up the list of priorities, putting outdoor heaters on the shopping list. The introduction of the smoking ban in England is expected to trigger a huge increase in demand for heat umbrellas, potentially creating a new environmental burden.

Using a gas-fired heater for just one hour can waste enough energy to make 400 cups of tea, according to Friends of the Earth. Increased demand due to the smoking ban has prompted concern about exacerbating global warming. The Lib Dem environment spokesman, Norman Baker, has urged the government to act over the "wasteful practice" of patio heaters ahead of the ban.

Environmental groups say the heaters are energy-hungry and their advice is simple - if it's cold outside, wear a coat. But manufacturers say figures for how much carbon heaters emit are often inaccurate and misleading. Based on government statistics, they say the current number of heaters are responsible for 0.002% of all UK carbon emissions.


Recently the shortage of plumbers sent their wages sky high, prompting others to ditch well-paid jobs elsewhere to learn the trade and cash in. Now - thanks to the smoking ban - it's chefs.

Beer and fags go hand in hand for many and a lot of heavy smokers are also heavy drinkers. In a bid to offset the possible impact on alcohol sales of punters being turned outside for a cigarette, many pubs are focusing on food. It's resulted in the demand for chefs going through the roof and their wages could follow.

Jobs website has seen a 37% increase in the number of adverts posted by pubs looking for chefs since the smoking ban in England was announced last December. It's a 114% increase compared with the same period last year, and demand is expected to keep on rising.

"The increased focus on food in the run-up to the smoking ban means trained chefs are very much in demand," says John Porter, food editor of trade newspaper The Publican. "But demand totally outstrips supply, as there is a real skills shortage in the industry. Pubs are having to really improve the wages and benefits they offer in order to fill vacancies."

Last year the average wage for a chef at a standard pub was under 25,000, now it's estimated to top 30,000 plus bonuses. Some companies are luring chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants with six-figure salaries to up their game when it comes to pub grub.


The smoking ban is very democratic, even the rich and famous are forced outside for a fag and guess who's waiting for them - the paparazzi.

Looking forward to the ban
Within weeks of a smoking ban being introduced in New York, stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Hudson were pictured outside restaurants and bars having a puff.

Such establishments used to be able to shield their famous patrons from the camera lens, but it will be much harder with smoking bans.

Celebrities now face a choice, forego the fag or stand a good chance of being snapped having it. What's the solution? Exclusive outdoor smoking lounges for VIPs perhaps?

Below is a selection of your comments.

You'll get more smokers standing outside pubs and gathering in beer gardens - so complaints from neighbours will also increase. So more arguments on the streets between drinkers and neighbours!
Geoff Harris, Bath

We live in the South Wales Valleys, three doors away from a busy town centre pub where we have had absolutely no issues with noise in the eight years that we have been here. However, since the introduction of the smoking ban we have not had a single uninterrupted nights sleep. The ban, along with the recent licensing law changes that permit pubs to stay open for longer has created an outdoor social group who, often having indulged a little too enthusiastically, make a ridiculous amount of noise and have absolutely no thought for residents. The noise level is unbearable even with the windows closed and we are now sleep wearing earplugs. I'm not sure how we'll manage when the hot summer nights arrive, probably have to invest in an air conditioning unit ... very environmentally friendly!I would be very surprised if this ill thought out, nanny state ban hasn't seriously affected the value of our property. BTW, I'm a non smoker.
Ven, Ebbw Vale

You forgot smirting! The congregation of smokers outside pubs, offices or shopping centres creates a whole new social environment where flirting is likely to ensue. Just think of the stories children will be told in years to come: "Well, your mother and I met when we were social pariahs forced to stand outside in the rain like second class citizens enjoying a cigarette". Ah...
Mike Finn, Teesside

Couple of things: The story of the man in Scotland who took up smoking so he could fit in with his friends is laughable - I can understand kids doing this but an adult taking up smoking to fit in says a lot more about them as a person than showing up some very considered legislation. Patio heaters are indeed wasteful; some enterprising company should develop a wind-up model that could give the wheezing smokers a bit of exercise if they feel so cold out there. Celebs caught smoking outside is a great leveller and I hope no exception is made for one of them - Bono and the Red Hot Chili Peppers were asked to put out their cigarettes in a hotel bar in Dublin after the Irish ban came in - what made this more extraordinary was then fact that it was in The Clarence; part-owned by Bono himself! The onset of the gastropub is a great thing; Ireland never had much of a pub grub tradition until the smoke cleared in our bars. Now we're even eating things like bangers and mash - will wonders ever cease?!
Joe, Ashbourne, Ireland

As for people taking up smoking because they're friends are outside doing it - seriously, get a backbone! I'd have thought by that age people were past doing things just because they're mates do.
AF, S Devon

The first paragraph in this section, when the person said they took up smoking and now smoke 20 a night is ridiculous. Why not just go outside and not have a cigarette? I gave up smoking 5 weeks ago this week because of the ban. It's a great thing once you get used to it and the smell of your pub.
Kevin Brady, Dublin

What about sales of good cigars plummeting. You can nip out for a quick ciggie, but can hardly stand outside during the time it takes to enjoy a cuban cigar!
Rob, Uxbridge

How on earth can a smoking ban be a cause of someone taking up smoking - the idea is rediculous! I can understand the fact that non smokers will be left inside pubs alone whilst their friends go outside for a cigarette but even if the non smokers join them for the social aspects, they are not forced to join them in actually smoking themselves. Its just an excuse. And as for the smokers who claim they are forced to subject their children at home with more harm from passive smoking, they should just take a long hard look at their selfish, thoughtless attitudes and think of their children's health for a change. No excuse in the world can justify putting your children's health at risk purely bacause of a habit. There's lots of help and support out there now to help people to stop smoking, so if the help is there, I say use it.
Mark, stoke on trent

The real answer to all these points; just quit!
Ray Hindle, Lytham St Annes

I sympathise with the poor celebrities who may be photographed standing outside a building filling their lungs with tar. Diddums.
Nicholas Blake, Nottingham, UK

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