Theatre to ban smoking

SMOKERS will be banned from lighting up in a Suffolk theatre next year after bosses decided to stamp out the habit once and for all.As of January 1, visitors to the Quay Theatre in Sudbury will be forced to go outside the building if they want a cigarette.

SMOKERS will be banned from lighting up in a Suffolk theatre next year after bosses decided to stamp out the habit once and for all.

As of January 1, visitors to the Quay Theatre in Sudbury will be forced to go outside the building if they want a cigarette.

The move follows an unsuccessful three-month trial carried out at the theatre, which restricted smokers to using an annex off the main bar.

But Geoffrey Challacombe, chairman of the theatre's board of trustees, said the experiment had simply created a “smoky hole.

“It had become an unpleasant area for smokers, and other users of the premises were also unhappy that fumes still wafted into the main bar,” he said.

“The auditorium has always been non smoking, and from correspondence and other approaches we have received it seems at least 90% of the theatre's patrons want a 100 per cent ban throughout.

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“We are bowing to the inevitable and, although we regret some people will not be happy with the move, we also realize the ban is likely to make the bar area more attractive to a significant number of people that may be avoiding us at present.

“Enforced, smoke free bars in such places as Ireland and Italy have already proved very popular, and we feel we are grasping the nettle sooner rather than later.

“A total ban on smoking in public places is inevitable in England, and we felt it would be productive to move forward rather than be dragged there.”

In recent months, establishments up and down the country have become completely off-limits to smokers, with many pubs and restaurants in Suffolk quickly following suit.

In July 2004, staff at the Rushbrooke Arms in Sicklesmere, near Bury St Edmunds, cleaned their final ashtray after a decision was taken to ban smoking on the premises.

And Winners Bingo in Bury became the first bingo hall in the country to stub out smoking last year, after its owners decided a non-smoking environment would be more comfortable for customers.

In October this year, the Government released a Health Bill, which aims to introduce a partial ban on smoking in public places, allowing people to light up only in private clubs and pubs which do not serve food.

But many people believe it is only a matter of time before there is a complete ban throughout England and Wales.

Liz Cole, fellow Quay Theatre trustee and member of the Sudbury Dramatic Society, added: “We have received several written complaints from the public about the present situation.

“The Quay receives public money and must ensure it does everything possible to offer facilities acceptable to as wide a range of potential users as possible.”

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