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First smoke free pub given mixed reaction; Regulars having a pint at one Warwickshire local will no longer be able to enjoy a cigarette after it opened its doors as a no-smoking pub. Jessica Shepherd reports.

Byline: Jessica Shepherd

It's lunch hour at the Fleur de Lys pub.

A couple flirt over their pints, old friends catch up over their lattes, and a businessman clicks the mouse of his laptop as he sips on a Coke.

No-one is smoking. Not a cigarette packet or ashtray is in sight. As of yesterday the Fleur de Lys became one of the first smoke-free pubs in the West Midlands and, far from lose customers, manager Chris Burton expects them to double.

He said: 'Even smokers have said it is a great idea. They believe it will help them give up. We have had to tell people booking tables for Mother's Day that it is now a no-smoking zone, which we were a bit worried about because it is the busiest day of the year.

'But the reception has been incredibly positive. Our sales are predicted to double judging by other pubs in the UK which have done the same thing. A lot of people are put off by a smoky atmosphere nowadays.

'This is the way forward for many pubs, I think we will see it is an increasing trend.'

The decision to ban smoking inside and on the patio of the 18th Century Grade II-listed building in Lowsonford, was made by Fleur de Lys' owners, the Laurel Pub Company, and Mr Burton, himself an ex-smoker of ten years.

Staff have been instructed to implement an action plan if a customer lights up.

'We have a sand bucket and a smoker would be politely asked to stub his or her cigarette out.

'They are not going to be thrown into the Stratford and Avon canal outside, but we know our customers prefer a smokefree environment. It's tricky. We don't want to banish smokers but we want to get rid of their smoke.' But not all customers agree with the policy. Occasional smoker Jayne Dodd , a shop assistant from Warwick, said: 'I think it will put some people off coming here, which is such a shame. It seems more of a restaurant-type thing to do. I have friends who are smokers and I would feel uncomfortable about bringing them here.

'There should be areas for non-smokers or it should be left to the individual to find a suitable spot which does not disturb someone eating. When you go somewhere it is nice to have the option of smoking or not.'

But Alan Daniels, a retired engineer from Solihull, was delighted his favourite local had gone smoke-free.

He said: 'A lot of places have segregated areas which are just a line of pot plants.

'It makes no difference at all. I think there still needs to be smoky pubs. It would be a shame if the traditional man's drinking spots disappeared. But this marks a change in culture with more pubs operating like restaurants.

'I think people will be surprised at the difference it makes.

'When I first stopped smoking I didn't mind the smell, but now it really bothers me.

'It's great Fleur de Lys has gone smoke-free.'

Laurel plan to switch 60 of its 625 pubs into smoke-free zones by the end of the summer, including the Garrick Inn in Stratford-upon-Avon.

CAPTION(S):

Alan Daniels and Norma James enjoy a drink at the Fleur de Lys -both are non smokers
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Mar 20, 2004
Words:551
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