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The Smoking Ban and the Awnings Trade

 Mike Seary is managing director of Deans Blinds & Awnings, a family run company based in south London. Deans history spans three centuries as a leading manufacturer of blinds  and awnings. Mike has been closely involved in the industry and he is a recent past-president of the BBSA.

I’ve been asked to prepare some notes for readers on how I think this will affect the awning trade. The first thing I should do is clarify the regulations and timing.

 We all know that the ban has been imposed in Scotland and should be imposed in Wales on April 1st though this is still to be confirmed. The ban should be in place in England on 1st July 2007. The regulations themselves are not yet approved but the “proposals” can be found here .

Finalised regulations governing the smoking ban in England are expected to enter their remaining procedural stages in Parliament “imminently” (this could mean anything!) , although a definite document is unlikely before January 2007 at the earliest.

The Welsh Assembly is pushing ahead with plans to introduce a smoking ban on 2 April 2007 and, having completed its separate consultation on smoking regulations earlier this month, plans to have them published by the start of the New Year. Welsh ministers have said the “hope” to have the regulations in place by April and in time for the Parliamentary sitting in May – don’t you wish you could tell your customers you “hope” to have the blinds ready for their Grand Opening?

Just as with so many bills passed by this Government in recent years the Bill is vague and open to all sorts of interpretation.

For example: “Premises are smoke-free only in those areas which are enclosed or substantially enclosed”. – Er… quite -  “However, the appropriate national authority (who this is anyone’s guess) may specify in regulations what “enclosed and “substantially enclosed” mean. I presume from this that, whatever the final regulations Local Authorities can make up their own rules anyway.

I note that one Londonon council is also advocating a Smoking Ban on the city streets to prevent noisy groups of smokers congregating outside pubs. No doubt there will soon be a recruitment drive amongst third world countries to source a regiment of flat capped Storm Troopers to issue the proposed on the spot £50.00 fines to these evil people who are clearly far more of a threat to society than the shoplifters and  “happy slappers” who deserve our support and understanding.

How is it that nobody realises that the real cause of Global Warming is the vast quantity of hot air being produced the army of Civil Servants combined with the denuding of the world forests to make enough paper to produce a Guardian big enough to contain all the advertisements for yet more Civil Servants to make yet more regulations.

It seems I’ve used all of my allotted words on a rant rather than a helpful article – no apologies – how can I advise on regulations, which have not been passed on a timetable that has not been agreed? – anyway it was more fun.

Once the regulations have finally been agreed and a timetable firmly in place I’ll try to give you a bit more feedback on the impact on our industry.



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