Dividing the regulars: controversial pub policies

Many regular customers in local pubs may feel that any newly introduced policies are unnecessary to them, and it can impact whether they choose to spend time there. From the introduction of E-cigarettes to dogs on the premises, we take a look at the top pub policies that have split opinion with some help from The Seaton Lane Inn, a pub in Seaham.

Vape culture

Both smokers and non smokers alike have been up in arms about this one. Only a few years ago did the first electronic cigarette arrive on the scene and now they’re considered commonplace. Scientifically proven to be a healthier alternative to tobacco cigarettes, and coming in a multitude of flavours, the boom has seen the market rise millions per year.

Confusion continues to cloud judgement on the e-cigarettes from all corners, as their place in society remains up for debate. It is in fact, not illegal to vape inside a pub, as they aren’t included under the Health Act 2006 that justified the smoking ban. A seemingly concrete act that won’t be contested anytime soon – a poll of more than 4,000 adults by YouGov released for the 10th anniversary found nearly three-quarters of people would oppose the ban being overturned, with just 12% wanting to get rid of it.

Bar owners can prohibit e-cigs and vapers from their venues, but if a customer challenged this then there are no current laws to support the judgement as it remains a matter of preference for many.

Immediately after the ban was enforced in 2011, a sharp decline in respiratory illnesses was reported by bar workers, as evidence found by the Department of Health.

Alcohol challenge 21/25

This was a scheme that was brought in by JD Wetherspoon over a decade ago in an attempt to lower the number of customers attempting to buy age-restricted products at a site. Customers were asked to prove their age if the retailer thought that they looked under the age of 21 or 25, despite the age of restriction for buying alcohol and tobacco products at 18.

This initiative stemmed over a decade ago from pub giant JD Wetherspoon, as an attempt to prevent underage drinkers from entering age limited establishments and consuming alcohol on the property, as fines can be issued for both scenarios. If underage drinkers are aware of the tougher restrictions placed by shops, supermarkets and pubs then that will limit the amount of times they attempt to deceive the retailers.

Results have shown that the scheme brought the percentage of underage drinkers down, as since 2007 the figure has fallen from 44% to 18% over the period 2014-2018.

Four legged friends

Prohibiting dogs from bars is not supported in UK law, except for areas such as kitchens where fresh food is prepared. But like the other policies, it is entirely the discretion of the owners as to whether they allow customers to bring along their canine friends, but research suggests that if an establishment is dog friendly, it will bring in more business than one that isn’t.

Dogs can boost revenue and help to stimulate more happy hormones, while also being proven stress relievers. But animal allergies are a very real thing, so there are arguments for both sides of this policy. However, providing plenty of signage and areas where dogs aren’t allowed such as the eating rooms of a restaurant, this is one of the more lenient policies that are becoming more and more relaxed as time goes on, adapting to the cultural trends of the UK.

On the flip side of this, dogs are invaluable marketing tools for drawing in new custom in the form of the local dog-walking community.

The benefit to becoming dog friendly is felt heavily by Sean Donkin, managing director of The Inn Collection Group who own The Seaton Lane Inn, among others. He said: “The decision to make our Inn’s dog-friendly was predominately a business opportunity which was being overlooked by our competitors. The rural areas in which our Inns are mainly located are popular with dogs and families, but this doesn’t cover the whole premises, just a selection of the pub.”

Beverage smugglers

It may seem like an innocent way to save some cash, and we do it in other places such as at the cinema, but should we really be bringing our own shop-bought products into establishments? The majority of pubs do not allow revellers to enter their premises with previously purchased drinks, on the basis that they’ll be losing profit.

While action can be taken if people are caught filling up from their own supply of beer, those who choose to bring wine to a meal can be hit with a ‘corkage fee’ to compensate bar owners.


By digital marketing agency Mediaworks

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