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Union bans smoking in the building

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
May 04 2006 11:39

Last night council approved a paper to make the union completely non-smoking - well almost...

Click Here for the Full Article

May 06 2006 00:46

"shisha" is not a proper noun and should not be capitalised. More detailed etymology is available here.

May 06 2006 18:24

Since when has it been the aim of the Union to reduce student's freedom. Banning smoking from the bars is going to alienate a lot of people, surely keeping one bar as a smoking bar is fairer - independent of what the government has in mind.

May 06 2006 20:16

It could also be argued that since when has the union's role being to force non smokers wanting to drink in a particular bar and the staff of that bar to be exposed to passive smoking. If you want to smoke there is a lovely outside quad to use and you are even allowed to take your drink there.

If I want to engage in unsociable activities not allowed by the bar I have to go elsewhere why should smokers be let off?

The ban is coming anyway, smokers save yourself a fortune and give up, you might save the health service a fair amount as well.

4. pg   
May 09 2006 00:48

i dont understand why non-smokers can have their space and smokers cant have their space as well.

Are you so frustrated with your life you have to force people to do what you believe is right? i think people like you cmj102 should get a girlfriend/boyfriend and stop telling people how to behave.

Is somebody forcing you to go to the shisha room (UDH) and get smoke in your face? i dont think so...

do you ever go to the Union during the week? smokers are the majority of the people in the bars and I believe they should have their rights to amuse themselves. We have two bars in the Union, one for you, one for me... wanna take both of them? then you are just a sad and selfish person.

ps: i take private healthcare, and i think the government is wrong.

May 09 2006 03:01

'We have two bars in the Union, one for you, one for me'... The Union Bar is the ONLY decent bar on campus, it should be available to everyone - not just those with a penchant for dense, choking smoke!

It's not an 'us' and 'them' situation, guys. We all know smokers and enjoy going out with them etc. Is it really so hard for smokers to walk upstairs to the UDH and have a fag there, then come back down to drink?

But at the end of the day, who cares? It going to be banned in summer 2007 anyway!

6. Ant   
May 09 2006 07:17

"do you ever go to the Union during the week? smokers are the majority of the people in the bars"


Regularly I'm in the union bars, and regularly with a fairly substantial group (upto about 20) of which only 1 person smokes.

Please remember that if you look into a bar it is alot easier to notice the people that are doing something than the people who aren't. Also due to the s**t ventilation within the bars (Union Bar especially), it only takes a relatively small number of smokers for the atmosphere to become smokey. I know of at least one Society who changed had to change their regular meeting place due to the smokey atmosphere

May 09 2006 13:07

pg, How does wanting to have a drink in the union without getting smoked out in any way affect whether I have a girlfriend or not (As it happens I do).

I wasn't refering to the shisha bar which runs on its own upstairs for that purpose but to the downstairs bar, particularly the union bar where those of us who appreciate a traditional bar and real ales may not want to be smoked out. And I'm sure it can't be good to have nicotine and smoke settling on / reacting with all that lovely pewter many have worked hard for the union to be entitled to be used.

May 09 2006 16:35

The reason the UDH was excluded from the ban was that it was considered that if the room's primary use was shisha on Wednesdays and Fridays, then there would be no reason for any objections about the smokey atmosphere in there.

The bars were all included because it was felt that everyone should be allowed to go to any bar they wanted, and that a smokey atmosphere should not be allowed to stop people going in to socialise, drink and eat, which is the primary use of the bars. Smoking is merely secondary.

Finally the UDH is booked out nearly every night except Wednesdays and Fridays (when Ents have it), so it is unlikely to become a smoking room the rest of the time. That is unless someone founds "smoking soc", so they can hire the room on a formal basis!

May 09 2006 23:14

This decision on banning smoking couldn't have come quick enough! People can ruin their own livers through alcholism and not take other people with them. I also have no problem if students chose to waste their student loan on cigarettes but i don't want to be subjected to the potential health risks from smoking while i'm ruining my liver! They can keep their unhealthy habit to themselves.

May 11 2006 11:32

It's fascism tbh.

I think we should have a protest where we all simultaneously light up in the union bar on the day the ban starts!

Smoke on.

11. Tom E   
May 11 2006 12:00

I find it hard to understand how a decision made based on a majority opinion of students could be considered fascism.

12. bored   
May 11 2006 12:45

Those poor smokers dont even have the pleasure of being subjected to the tyranny of the majority, but by a few petty minded hacks on council who are in no doubt wallowing in the glory of saving the lives of all those Union bar customers that have been lost to passive smoking. Just because we find a certain activity unpleasant is no excuse to ban it. What worries me is that at one of the world's leading science universities is that so many of us swallow the anti-tobacco propaganda paraded by various pressure groups without question. There has been as yet no experiment to confirm the link between passive smoking and later illnesses with 100% confidence; so until we reach that point we should all lay off the smokers.

May 11 2006 13:04

I find it worrying that at a leading science university someone still expects 100% confidence from experiments... I'm still waiting for the last 0.0001% of proof that the world really is round!

14. Seb   
May 11 2006 13:28

The Union Bar is owned by the members who are represented by council.

The decision to make a venue non smoking really ought to be in the hands of the people that own it. It's not analagous to the Government banning smoking at all.

I support the idea, not because I find smoking disgusting but because I find the smell of smoke disgusting and ruins a perfectly good night out in a Bar, not just any Bar but a Bar which is meant to serve me. Not so much a tyranny of the majority but the tyranny of the majority of the owners of the Bar. If you want to drink and smoke, avail yourself of the various pubs around SK that do allow it.

15. smoker   
May 11 2006 13:57

OK, how about the union subsidies all the smokers it is planning to disrespectfully drive out of the building to drink in the considerably more expensive pubs in SK as you suggest? In fact that would probably encourage more people to take up the weed, if they knew they were going to be able to, at no extra cost, attend a venue not frequented by so many spoilsport, killjoy nerds on a mission to exterminate all fun at IC.

Its about freedom of choice. All customers of the Union are there out of choice. If smoking really bothers you that much then YOU should pay to go elsewhere, not drive out the innocent smokers. If, as is claimed so many students are totally repulsed by a bit of tobacco scented air then they would be flocking to do the same thing but clearly are not that fussed. Intelligent Imperial students are more than capable of assessing the so-called risks associated with passive smoking and then coming to a judgement about where they will spend their money. As there is no evidence of students drinking elsewhere there is absolutely no point in persecuting a minority of students in this way.

May 11 2006 15:07

All this ranting to protect a small minority who wish to pollute the atmosphere. Though I can see how taxing your lifestyle to the hilt and then expecting you to not pursue it in certain places must be irritating, there really is no excuse for such an anti-social habit. You wouldn't tolerate someone in the Bar randomly picking fights all evening with other customers, he'd be kicked out for being thoroughly anti-social. Similarly non-smokers, who are the vast majority, are fed up with the nice bar clouded in dense fog.

I'm hoping all you militant smokers will see fit to lobby against the EU directives on vehicle pollutant levels as well, since what harm can a bit of extra smog and filth actually do? Until then, you'll just have to accept that a large number of us want cleaner fresher facilities. You can still have your fun in the well ventilated Quad, which at this time of year has ample space and weather for all 1000 smokers at Imperial to light up simultaneously.

May 11 2006 16:22

I think you should check out the Queen's Arms prices. They are cheaper than the union for most real ale's.

Also just for reference. It was not "hacks" who put through the paper. It was bought by over 50 non students with the support of the people who sit on trading & council.

Your view was asked for - if you didn't bother then tough luck.

18. Seb   
May 11 2006 17:19


"OK, how about the union subsidies all the smokers"

Why should it? As you say, it is a matter of choice as to whether you go to the Bar or not. You can always drink in the union bar and then nip outside into the quad for a fag if you want.

The fact is the respresentatives of the people that the bar belongs to decide they don't like the smell of smoke. It makes their evening less fun. Who, exactly, is being a killjoy here?

"Its about freedom of choice."

Indeed, and the people that get to make the choice are surely the owners of the bar. That's the point. Most other pubs have not yet banned smoking, so actually the Union is increasnig the choice of it's members who prefer to drink without smoke.

May 11 2006 17:32

Just incase people are wondering about council it's not just full of hacks. Many members are just students who care enough about the bit of the union they use to stand up for it. The smoking paper was largely backed by non council members and all smokers would have had a chance to speak against it.

Anyway, smoking will be banned in a year anyway so it wont be long until smokers have no pub to go to. Give up smokers, you'll save yourself a fortune and you might even get more friends and might be able to taste the drinks you buy.

May 11 2006 22:57

Well I think that this is fantastic news, the Union will be smoke-free and this will attract custom from new members. The regulars can smoke in the UDH (and get smoke exercise going up and down stairs!). Everyone wins!

21. Nick S   
May 12 2006 14:47

What a lot of people don't realise in the arguement it is dentrimental to the bar staff's health is that a singificant number of bar staff smoke - so they work in the smoking bar - problem solved

22. Si   
May 15 2006 20:13


Council accepted that banning smoking in all bars would undoubtable result in a down turn in bar trade


The Unions custom comes from the students it represents.

Thus if there is a down turn in trade it must result from more students choosing to go elsewhere than choosing to use the premises who previously hadn't.

From this I would conclude that banning smoking is against the opinion of the majority.

So yes it would appear to be a minority decision.

Unless you somehow want to prove that smokers spend more money on drinks than non-smokers?

If true surely it would make good business sense to attract these high spending customers.

May 15 2006 21:52

Fact: Union undertook trial ban on smoking in da Vinci's in the last year.

Fact: ICU SK Bars Take up 22% this year so far.

Fact: A majority of imperial students don't smoke.

Fact: Hacks can sometimes be right, even when they're normally wrong.

Fact: The Union exists to service the requirements of its members, even to the detriment of income (in the constitution)

Fact: I'd stay in the Union bar more often if I could see the other side of it.

24. Dan L   
May 16 2006 09:02

Whilst I understand that a small group of people may be upset by the council decision, it does represent the majority of students.

The commercial services people have the job of doing what students want, and whilst I sympthasise with them that financially this may have an impact, this does not stop it being what students want - and therefore what as a student union, they are entitled to have.

The union has been driven by commercial services over the last 5-10 years. All the DPF&S posters I have seen have been talking about cutting bar prices, and in fact out president-elect said this too.

I have spoken to numerous people who beleive that the union should budget its commercial services to break-even, and only hold a reserve of ?20-30k overall in case of a bad year, instead of the system currently operated where the aim is to make as much as possible. If this system was implemented then I could forsee drinks prices being cut by say 20-30%. This could be argued as the best way to get students into the bars, since local pubs have this year in some circumstances (normally popular Real Ales) been cheaper than the union.

What I still fail to understand is how pre-mix soft drinks have gone up from 60p a pint to ?1 a pint in 4 years. Either C02 has become very expensive, or soft drink consumers are being used to up revenues...

May 17 2006 19:23

Wow. I'm just passing through, so here are some (possibly unwelcome comments).

  • On soft drinks going up- have the beers gone up by the same amount? If so, then it's the margins you need to look at (i.e. staff costs etc not costs of raw materials like gas and syrup.)
  • Fascism can sometimes occur even when it is a majority decision (called tyranny of the majority). I doubt it occurred this time, but it _may_ feel that way to smokers.
  • When I was on trading we ran an experiment and made one of the bars non-smoking. Trade went down. I don't think this was because most people wanted a smoke, but if you are are in a group of 5 and a couple of people want a smoke, you usually go somewhere that they can smoke.
  • Congratulations to the Union Council on a very brave decision, but with all these amendments, arguments, and exemptions it almost sounds like a mirror of the UK Parliament's smoking ban! :-)

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