As the past two weeks have proved, there are few things the English enjoy more than sitting in a good beer garden.
Come rain or shine, the outdoor sections of pubs and restaurants across Yorkshire have been packed with merry drinkers since the coronavirus restrictions were eased on April 12.
For the first time since early January people can order drinks and food from bars and restaurants again, with the only catch being that they had to be enjoyed outside.
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Far from this being a restriction though, revellers have been more than happy to sit around benches with their friends and bask in the warm weather and bright nights starting to return – until it inevitably gets cold and then its big coats and jumper time.
But while most of us are happy to sit outside having felt so deprived of freshly poured pints, one thing many haven’t missed has been the smell of cigarette smoke that comes with it outside.
The smoking ban came into effect in 2007 and outlawed smoking inside pubs, restaurants and workplaces – but now that society has changed so drastically in the past year, should the ban be extended further so those drinking under the current stipulations don’t have to breathe in the smoke?
We asked our readers what they thought on our social media channels and received thousands of comments on the topic.
Many non-smokers said they were happy sitting amid the fog of cigarette fumes while some smokers were fuming at the notion that they should be outcast even further from the drinking establishments.
Alternative arrangements were suggested while some more hard-lined punters said that smoking should be banned altogether.
The majority were sympathetic to smokers, with Patricia Tomlinson saying: “I am not a smoker but l think it should still be allowed. They sit outside for a cigarette in all weathers, we only sit out when the sun is out.”
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Karen Traverse said: “I don’t smoke but you can’t push the smokers away again. Get a grip, it hopefully shouldn’t be too long now before you can go inside and leave the smokers outside in the sun getting a tan.”
Sarah Jade was keen to stick up for the smokers, saying: “Us smokers got kicked outside to smoke years ago and that’s where we’ve stayed to smoke ever since.
“Outside is our smoking area. Don’t like it? Stay at home until you can go back in to where we got kicked out of.”
Another added: “I’m not a smoker, but really, have we not got enough does and dont’s at the moment? Give it a bloody rest!”
Zak Cordon said moving smokers away was “mad” and added: “Each to their own but if you don’t like people smoking outside either move away or go inside where smokers have already been stopped from smoking?”
A number readers welcomed the idea including Dawn Stacey, who said: “Definitely yes at least till you can go back inside the pubs.”
Kate Wild said she still hasn’t been out for a meal “because eating a meal near someone smoking puts me off”.
She said: “I don’t have problem with smokers if they are not nearby although unfortunately there are some very inconsiderate smokers out there who are ignorant of others. It is why I won’t go to outside areas for a drink or a meal unless very well spaced. I prefer to wait until the pubs/restaurants open properly.”
Steve Thompson agreed, saying: “Whilst you can only be outside a separate area away from people eating and drinking should be allocated. It’s not nice eating whilst someone is blowing smoke all over the place.”
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Lesley O’Donnell went a step further, saying that smoking “should be banned everywhere” as it was a “disgusting, smelly habit”.
She added: “It’s bad enough walking into pubs through a cloud of cancerous fumes, we don’t need to breath it in whilst enjoying a meal! Surely people can do without for an hour or so!”
Julie Tucker said she works for a popular pub chain and that they have a separate outside smoking areas for both smokers and non-smokers but she can “see both sides of the argument”.
One reader took the separation to another level and suggested having separate pubs for smokers and non-smokers.
Finally there was one well-received comment that made light of the debate from Joan Hanson, who said: “I believe that all people having a meal at a pub should be made to sit in a field nearby. The smell of their food puts me off my cigarette!!!”