The BBC published this today, about the rise of the smoke-filled beer garden since the implementation of the public smoking ban. Though Rod Liddle, for one, assumes they will ban it eventually. Even more ominously, New South Wales will ban smoking in outdoor dining areas in 2015, and New Zealand promises to follow suit three years later. "Bloody hell," I thought "Mudgie will be up in arms about that. And quite probably legs and other appendages too."
I'm sure it's a known fact that pub drinkers are more likely, on average, to be smokers than the general population. Like their cigarette habit, they know the risks but don't particularly care about it. And if the smokers go completely, where will the pubs be then?
As I've said before, it's becoming much less socially acceptable to go to the pub for the sole purposes of drinking. More and more people are staying in with their bottles and cans than going out for a few pints or glasses. The effect this has on the population's sociability is a debate for another time, but many pubs are deserted apart from weekend evenings.
The way things are going, there will soon be only enough demand for one or two pubs in every town. These will solely supply craft beers and real ales for beer connoisseurs, namely Beards and Crafties who will be only people who would dare to be seen out in public drinking. And for the taste, you understand, not to get pissed. The pub will effectively become the liquid equivalent of the tiny-portion gourmet restaurant. With prices to match.
I ask this : Can you see any way to get people away from their computers, TVs, Chardonnay and Carling and back into the pub with others? Personally, I'm having difficulty doing so. Society in the past 35 years has become much more individualistic and, dare I say it, misanthropic. "I will do what I want, and anyone else can just sod off."
The world appears to be changing, and sadly, we'll probably have to change with it.