London, Aug. 18 (Reuters): Pizza Hut, one of Britain’s biggest restaurant chains, today banned smoking in the latest victory for the increasingly vocal anti-tobacco lobby.
From Dublin pubs to New York bars, the smoker is turning into an endangered species in a worldwide campaign to crack down on smoking in public places.
Brian Rimmer, Pizza Hut’s operations director, said the company “strongly believes that families should be able to take time to have a leisurely meal in a restaurant without exposing their children to other people’s smoke”.
Rimmer, whose company has 350 restaurants around Britain, added: “It is equally important that our staff can work in a smoke-free environment.”
Last month, Britain’s chief medical officer Liam Donaldson recommended a total ban on smoking in public places. That sweeping move is already being considered by health officials in the southern English seaside resort of Brighton.
Smokers are under fire around the globe and the whole culture of enjoying a drink and a smoke is under threat.
“The anti-smoking lobby is certainly getting more effective,” said David Liston, senior analyst in London at the investment managers Gerrard. “This is getting up a head of steam.”
A landmark World Health Organisation treaty has called for a ban on advertising and tobacco company sponsorship among other measures designed to cut down on a habit that kills five million people a year.
Countries signing the treaty have ranged from Brazil, Botswana and Iran to Britain, New Zealand and Spain.
Liston stressed: “There is a conflict here. Governments globally get so much of their revenues from tobacco taxes. So they have to try to balance these good intentions on stopping people smoking with the lack of revenue coming in.”
But anti-smoking campaigners have chalked up a string of victories around the world.
The Philippines, where cigarettes are peddled in the streets for just a few cents each, signed a tough new law prohibiting smoking in public places and banning all tobacco advertising within five years.
Greece, home to the European Union’s heaviest smokers, has extended a smoking ban from public spaces to the private sector as it steps up a clean-up campaign before it hosts the 2004 Olympic Games.
A smoking ban was even passed in the unlikely city of Lexington, Kentucky, capital of a leading tobacco-growing state that has the highest percentage of adult smokers in the US.
But bar and club owners are fuming.
Irish publicans and hoteliers launched a publicity campaign to roll back a tough new smoking ban which they say could result in severe job losses.
“It’s the only time I enjoy a smoke — it goes hand-in-hand with a pint,” said sales director Paul Goulding, enjoying a drink in a Dublin pub, his pack of cigarettes and lighter at the ready in front of him.
Getting frisked for handguns has been commonplace at New York nightclubs for years.
But now some doormen have started patting down patrons for a new menace — a pack of cigarettes.
According to the findings of the Cancer Research UK’s team at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, cigarette packets could soon carry pictures of cancer-ravaged organs if the authorities follow the advice of researchers who have studied health warnings.
Such graphic images, combined with health messages, may be the most effective way to get through to smokers, the findings revealed.