Here's what you had to say on a council's plans to ban pavement smoking outside restaurants, pubs and bars
Customers have been having their say on council bosses’ plans to stub out smoking on streets and pavements outside cafes,bars and restaurants.
The rise in outdoor dining and drinking during the coronavirus pandemic has placed new emphasis on the issue of people smoking in the street.
Now Durham County Council is one of five local authorities in the country to have introduced a ban on street smoking as a licensing condition for new businesses.
Customers soaking up the sun on Seaham seafront were largely in favour of the idea in principle – but sceptical about how the new rules would be enforced.
Seventy-four-year-old Stuart Squire said he had started smoking early but quit in his late 30s.
But while he appreciated the thinking behind the ban, he thought there would be difficulty in getting people to comply, especially outside pubs and bars. “There will be too many people who say ‘You’re not telling me what to do’,” he said.
"To be honest, I don’t think they should be imposing all these rules on people.”
Ernie Clapper, 66, visiting Seaham from Leeds, is living proof that changes to regulations can affect people’s behaviour: “I smoked for 30-odd years but gave up in 2008 when the smoking ban came in,” he said.
"Every now and again I have a little urge, but I don’t really miss it.
"I don’t know how they are going to police a ban on people smoking outside – they can’t even police people wearing their masks.”
Mum Kate Donkin is all in favour of a ban on street smoking: “It is definitely a good idea,” she said.
"I don’t like it, especially when I have got the kids with me.”
She did think the changes might have an adverse impact on businesses: “I don’t suppose it is going to be helpful for pubs if people can’t sit outside and have a tab when they have already been banned from doing so inside,” she added.
Seventy-four-year-old Shirley Lonsdale was enjoying a cigarette in the sunshine. “I stopped for 20 years but I was that bad with pains that I started again last year,” she said.
"I only have about eight a day – I don’t even smoke at home.”
Even as a smoker, she can see the benefits of the ban: “I know a lot of other people don’t like it. I will go along with it.”
Alison Weir, boss of Flanders cafe and bar, is also worried about enforcement. “We can’t control what people do out here when we are inside,” she said.
"Anyone who wants to have a smoke will just have to go over to The Green, I suppose. I think it is a little bit extreme.”
Online, opinions were divided. Writing on the Echo’s Facebook page, ex-smoker Jo-anne Garvey was all in favour of a smoking ban: “If it’s advertised as a family friendly pub and it serves food.... then yes ‘coz it stinks,” she said.
“If I go to the pub with my boys, we usually sit outside so they can play and we also eat outside too.
“Last thing you want to smell is smoke when you’re eating.”
But Paul Abbott was on the side of the ciggie-lovers: “Instead of always punishing the smokers who have stood by the law and go outside for their fix in all weathers, put the non-smokers in a designated area instead of always suggesting it should be the smokers who are moved,” he said.
Andrew Richard Hope thought it was a matter of good manners: “I’m a non-smoker but if I did smoke I wouldn’t want anyone feeling uncomfortable around me whilst I smoked,” he said.
"If the smoke is literally coming into your path directly then it’s not nice as the smell clings to your clothes.”
Ashleigh Tara was fed up with selfish smokers: “I shouldn’t have to sit inside on a nice day to avoid being surrounded by smoke which sets my asthma off and makes my clothes stink,” she said.
"Worse when there are children/families about because 99% of smokers don’t give two hoots about children inhaling it. There should be a designated area out of the way if needs must.
"It’s their bad habit, why should everyone else be inconvenienced by it?”