Operators split on e-cigarette use

Fragmented approach over use of electronic ‘smoking’ devices in pubs

• Some operators have banned the use of electronic cigarettes in their pubs.
• Some operators have banned the use of electronic cigarettes in their pubs.

By Gillian McKenzie

THEY have become an increasingly common sight since the ban on smoking in public places came into force in Scotland in March 2006.

But it seems the trade is split on the use of electronic cigarettes in pubs and clubs.
The devices are said to work by delivering a release of nicotine to the user without the tar and chemicals found in conventional cigarettes; most produce a smoke-like vapour and a glow when the inhaler is activated. The use of e-cigs in public places is currently legal, although there is ongoing debate over whether they should be banned.
Some of the major pub groups have already taken steps to ban the use of e-cigs in their outlets.
JD Wetherspoon, which operates 800 pubs across the UK, more than 50 of which are in Scotland, banned the use of the devices four years ago.
“Wetherspoon pubs tend to be very busy and it was difficult for staff behind the bar to differentiate between a real cigarette and an e-cigarette,” said a spokesman for the company.
“This led to staff having to leave the bar to check so Wetherspoon decided simply to ban them. It’s not really been an issue; some e-cig users are disappointed and Wetherspoon understands that, however the number of complaints has been minimal.”
Belhaven owner Greene King has also banned the use of e-cigs in its pubs; staff at its Molly Malone’s pub in Glasgow asked a customer to stop using an e-cigarette last month in line with the company’s policy.
“To avoid any confusion for staff and customers and to ensure the comfort and enjoyment of all, we do not allow e-cigarettes to be used inside our businesses,” said a spokeswoman.
However, Donald MacLeod, whose CPL firm operates Glasgow’s Garage, Cathouse and Tunnel nightclubs and Mexican bar and restaurant Juan Chihuahua, said the use of e-cigs should be allowed in licensed premises.
“I won’t ban them in my outlets,” he told SLTN.
“To say you can’t tell the difference between an e-cigarette and a real cigarette is just an excuse. Of course you can tell the difference.
“Banning them drives more people away from town and our pubs and clubs.”
SLTA chief executive Paul Waterson said it’s up to individual operators to decide on their policy.
“There’s one argument that you allow them because it’s not illegal; and there’s the other side where some people feel uncomfortable around e-cigarettes,” he said.
“It’s up to the operator.”