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Last Updated: Tuesday, 14 February 2006, 21:59 GMT
Smokers' emotional reaction to ban
By Lucy Wilkins
BBC News

Freya Eden
Freya Eden: 'It's people's choice to smoke'
Smokers can get quite emotional about their precious puffs.

When told that from next year they will no longer be able to enjoy a smoke in a pub, some shrieked in outrage.

"What? No way, they can't do that," said one woman in a smoky west London pub shortly after MPs voted for a blanket ban.

Her two friends, both with cigarettes in hand and fag ends in an ashtray, were also aghast.

"It's people's choice to smoke. What about people who just want to relax with a smoke and a drink?" said 20-year-old Freya Eden.

A smoker for five years, she said the ban would not encourage people to stop smoking.

That ban was the reason I left Ireland. If they introduce a ban here, I'll have to move somewhere else
Irish smoker in London

"They won't give up, they'll just get ill standing out in the cold in the street."

Not only that, but there would be "more litter and more fights, it'll just move everything out onto the street".

Her friend was staunch in defence of her right to smoke in pubs: "I'm still going to do it, I don't care if I end up with a 1,000 fine."

As others enjoyed a Valentine's Day drink in another pub, the manager - a smoker - welcomed the ban.

The Australian said he might even give up himself as "it's too cold to go outside here".

Non-smoker Richard Driscoll, 30, enjoyed a swift pint with his pregnant partner, sitting near the vast opening that constitutes the entrance to a Wetherspoons pub.

No smoking at the bar sign
Such signs will become unnecessary next year

"We're sitting near the door to get some fresh air," he said, although its debatable how fresh the air is on the upper floor of an air conditioned shopping centre.

"It's just a quick stop for us here tonight, but we do like coming to Wetherspoons because it's got smoke-free areas."

He said when he visits his parents in Ireland, where a smoking ban was introduced almost two years ago, "it's a real pleasure going into a pub".

But the Irish ban was not welcomed by all.

"That ban was the reason I left Ireland. If they introduce a ban here, I'll have to move somewhere else," said an Irish woman as she picked up her lighter.

"I want to smoke and drink at the same time. I don't want to eat and smoke, but when I finish a meal I immediately want to have a smoke.

Conspiracy?

"Why can't they have dining areas and smoking areas?" she asked before offering a shot of Sambuca.

Her friend, David, who described himself as a Mandinka warrior, felt the whole smoking ban was just a fabricated controversy, designed to deflect the real attention away from the Iraq war.

He became so animated in criticising the government and prime minister Tony Blair that he actually put down his unlit cigarette and lighter in order to gesture more forcefully.

Perhaps, in an unintentional way, the ban will make more people put down their cigarettes.




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