Rural inns are to be allowed to defy the smoking ban following complaints that the smell of cigarettes is better than the foul stench of customers’ damp dogs. The move is in recognition of the fact that countryside ramblers often allow their malodorous mutts to paddle in muddy streams or roll around in semi-dried cowpats before bringing them into public houses to stink the place out.
Mr Dick Woodhouse of The Red Lion in Somerset’s Lower Butterhampton is in favour. ‘I own a couple of labradors myself, so I’m not against people bringing dogs into my pub,’ he said. ‘But for the ten years since the smoking ban came in, there’s just been no disguising the fact that dirty, wet dogs in pubs are absolutely rank.’
In addition to the obvious anti-social effect of having the reek of mangy mutts in a bar, some argue that there is a health risk to staff, due to so-called passive smelling. Red Lion barmaid Hannah Lowe said, ‘It gets into your clothes and into your hair, and I just know it can’t be good for me to work in such a disgusting environment. I regularly go home smelling strongly of rancid retriever.’
Some pubs have attempted to address the problem of pongy pooches by encouraging dog owners to remain outside the premises in specially designated areas. However, it can be unpleasant and even intimidating for those who don’t own dogs to try to make their way into the bar through the foetid fog of canine odours.
Mr Woodhouse wants the right to refuse entrance to certain local smokers though. ‘Cigarettes and cigars will make the place smell loads sweeter,’ he said. ‘But much as I want to stop my pub smelling of whiffy whippets, I’m definitely not having old Seth Garside’s nauseating pipe tobacco back in here.’