PUB giant JD Wetherspoon is to ban smoking in ALL its boozers by May next year.
Bosses stole a march on rivals by introducing the change at all 650 pubs within 16 months.
Sixty of the outlets in seven cities will be smoke-free from this May.
The company was facing new laws in 2008 which will outlaw smoking in workplaces and pubs that sell prepared food.
A total ban in Ireland, brought in last year, has seen pub sales plummet by 15 to 20 per cent.
But Wetherspoon chiefs do not expect takings to be affected.
Chairman Tim Martin said yesterday: “An increasing percentage of the population are giving up smoking and a significant number are staying away from pubs and restaurants because they’re too smoky.
“The Government approach does not make sense since pubs can get around it by giving up food sales.”
Landlords will watch Wetherspoon profits with interest as its pubs in London, Aberdeen, Newcastle, Glasgow, Bristol, Birmingham and Nottingham go smoke-free this May.
The British Beer and Pub Association’s Mark Hastings said: “It’s a myth that non-smoking bars have increased sales. We wish them luck but pubs that go no-smoking see no increase in trade, they see a loss.”
The Institute of Innkeepers called the plans “brave” and warned the Government’s plans “could be a complete disaster for small pubs.
Pro-smoke group Forest backed the chain “100 per cent”, saying there was “no need for Government interference”.
A spokesman added: “There are still plenty of other pubs for smokers.”
Anti-smoking and health groups and the TUC also said it would benefit pub staff.
Wetherspoon’s drinkers had mixed feelings.
Sophie Panner, 25, from Southend, said: “This ban will encourage more people to give up.”
But Mark Holmes, 19, of Romford, said: “Pubs should not dictate what I can do.”
Londoner Naomi Murphy, 18, added: “They may as well stop serving beer.”
Driving the Morning After
A THIRD of drinkers drive the morning after a session when they are probably still over the limit, research shows.
And the worst culprits are the under-29s with half admitting to it.
Many believe they will be safe after SIX HOURS — but trials found it takes 12 HOURS to sober up after four pints of lager.
Only one in ten drivers knew they should allow six hours after half a bottle of wine.
More than half of the 2,000 surveyed by insurance firm Direct Line admitted driving within two hours of a drink.
Doctors in Carolina, US, have found new brain cells grow at twice the normal rate after a week off alcohol during tests on rats.
Bars raise spirit level
DRINKERS were warned yesterday they could end up over the limit without realising it due to larger spirit measures in pubs.
Spirits have traditionally been served in 25ml measures — equivalent to one unit of alcohol — but now four in ten bars sell 35ml shots which are closer to 1.5 units.
Alcohol Concern said: “Drinkers must be aware of larger measures and the potential harm of drinking too much.”
Policing Booze-Fuelled Violence
BARS and breweries were told last night to pay towards the cost of policing booze-fuelled violence — or face laws forcing them to.
The alert came as Home Secretary David Blunkett unveiled sweeping new plans to unite the police, town halls, firms and local communities to fight crime.
Home Office minister Hazel Blears stressed that drinks firms would also have to help crack down on drunken yobs.
She warned: “We are in constructive talks. Most companies now recognise they are producing a product that can cause harm if misused. I would prefer to go down a voluntary route — but I haven’t ruled out legislation.”
Mr Blunkett’s plan includes giving people the mobile phone number of their local cop, and councillors having powers to tell police to act on problem estates.
Police recruits will also be able to join forces at all ranks rather than working their way up from constable and spending two years on the beat.
Thousands more community support officers will be given powers to detain offenders.
Earlier, Mr Blunkett and PM Tony Blair visited an estate in Bexley, south-east London, where crime has fallen dramatically after more bobbies were put back on the beat.
How many Units is my drink?
As the range and strength of alcoholic drinks continues to grow, ENC looks at how to work out exactly how much you are drinking.
Many of us are familiar with the system of measuring alcohol content in "units".
We are told, for instance, that for women 14 units of alcohol a week is the recommended limit, and for men 21.
Many of us have been told a glass of wine is the equivalent of one unit, and a pint of lager two.
But the system was devised over 20 years ago, and since then the strength and variety of drinks available has changed dramatically.
One glass of wine rarely now equals just one unit of alcohol.
This rough guide was based on a glass of wine at 8% ABV (alcohol by volume) in a 125ml glass - a measure and strength no longer widely available.
Nowadays, a standard glass of wine is served in a 175ml glass and is often up to 13% ABV, which adds up to 2.3 units.
Similarly, a half-pint glass of beer is only equivalent to one unit if the alcohol content is 3.5%, but most lagers on sale today are much stronger and a pint could easily be 2.8 units.
How many units?
But there is a sum which helps you work out how many units you have drunk.
You need to know the strength of the drink (%ABV) and amount of liquid in millimetres (one pint is 568ml; a standard glass of wine 175ml).
You multiply the amount of drink in millilitres by the percentage ABV, and then divide by 1,000.
For example, if you order a pint of strong lager at 8% ABV:
1 pint (568ml) X 8 = 4,544
Divided by 1,000 = 4.544, or 4.5 units
That is much stronger than the two units many people assume it would contain - and means just over three pints of strong lager would reach the recommended weekly limit for women.
What about drinking and driving - how many units is safe to drink before getting behind the wheel?
The legal drink-drive limit is 80mg per 100 millilitres of blood.
But this cannot easily be translated into alcohol units as it can be affected by build, sex, whether food has been eaten, and a host of other factors.
Standard (175ml) glass of wine - 2 units
Large (250ml) glass of wine - 3 units
Pint of standard lager - 2.3 units
Pint of premium lager - 2.8 units
Pint of strong cider - 4.7 units
Campaigners say there is therefore no safe amount to drink before driving, because it is so difficult to tell what effect the alcohol will have on you.
Another important consideration is how long the each unit will stay in your system.
Only 10 minutes after having a drink, 50% of the alcohol will be in your bloodstream.
After an hour all the alcohol will have been absorbed.
On a typical night out you may easily have 200mg/100ml of alcohol in the blood by midnight, which will not be fully flushed out until the following afternoon.
And contrary to popular belief, it is impossible to speed up the processing of alcohol through your body any faster.
A cold shower or cup of coffee will not help - it just takes time.
New Date-Rape Terror
WOMEN have been warned of a new date-rape terror - attackers drugging their victims with cigarettes dipped in embalming fluid.
A woman of 30 was raped by two men after she is believed to have accepted one of the knock-out smokes - known in America as a "fry".
The victim quickly felt giddy and accepted a lift with the pair - but ended up being attacked in a guest house.
Cops have warned women to beware after the incident at Baron's club in Swansea.
Acting Det Insp Peter Black said: "The woman is obviously very distressed."
Officers are checking local undertakers for information.
Detectives are looking for a man with a tattoo of pink lips on one of his hips, which he apparently showed off in the club.
He is described as white, in his 30s, about 5ft 9in with black, centre-parted hair. His friend was around 24, 5ft 7in with cropped black hair.
The cigarettes - soaked in formaldehyde and other solvents - have been used by rapists in America. A U.S. website claims they can kill.
Illegal Music Downloads
MUSIC bosses have launched a landmark court action to fight the illegal swapping of songs on the internet.
The British Phonographic Industry is suing 28 users for uploading tracks on to sites such as Kazaa and Morpheus.
It is the first civil action of its kind here. Other cases — backed by the Government — will follow.
The lawsuits are in addition to another 431 announced yesterday being filed by music bosses in France, Germany, Denmark, Italy and Austria.
Hundreds more cases across Europe and around 5,700 in the US are also ongoing.
Uploaders transfer music on to the net.
Downloaders copy music from the internet on to their computers.
The BPI — the UK record industry’s main trade association — said those indicted here were “major” offenders who have uploaded thousands of songs.
The 28 users targeted have not yet been contacted.
The BPI yesterday lodged court papers allowing them to be tracked down through their domain addresses.
Users get the chance to settle out of court.
If they do not, the BPI will seek damages and injunctions to stop them uploading.
The BPI claims single sales have halved since 1999 when downloading first took off after the launch of Napster.
Hundreds of millions of songs have since been shared for free.
Arts Minister Estelle Morris yesterday welcomed the legal action.
She said: “Piracy is theft, pure and simple.”
But editor of music magazine Rip & Burn, Tom Dunmore, said: “It’s a risky strategy to sue your own customers. Legal download services are too expensive.”
Newky Ale's 'Health' Alert
BOTTLES of Newcastle Brown Ale are to carry health warnings similar to those printed on packets of cigarettes.
The labels will tell drinkers how many units of alcohol a can or bottle contains — typically about two units for a can of lager.
This will be accompanied by the message: “Responsible drinkers don’t exceed three to four units a day for men and two to three for women.”
The messages will appear on Newky bottles and cans from next month.
They will soon appear on other Scottish Courage brands, including John Smith’s bitter and Foster’s and Kronenbourg lagers.
Coors, which brews Carling and Grolsch lagers, will introduce a similar policy next year and other brewers are expected to follow suit.
The move follows an announcement that a large pub chain is joining the war against binge drinking.
Yates is calling time on happy hour, ruling out all-you-can-drink promotions and promising free soft drinks to drivers at weekends.
SMOKING is to be banned
SMOKING is to be banned in all pubs that serve food, along with every restaurant in the country.
In sweeping changes to be announced next month only old-fashioned bars which don’t dish up meals will escape the ban.
All eateries — from celeb hang-out The Ivy to Pizza Express and greasy spoons — as well as pubs and clubs will be affected.
Restaurants which build separate smoking rooms may escape a total ban, but they will have to provide proper ventilation.
Customers who enjoy a cigarette or cigar must restrict themselves to that room.
But the redesign and building work involved would cost the food and drink industry millions.
Tony Blair and Health Secretary John Reid agreed on the ban last week. The decision has yet to be finalised but sources say Dr Reid’s mind is made up.
A government insider said: “The vast majority of the public feel smoking shouldn’t be allowed where people eat. It’s an overwhelming view and it is right for us to take it into account.”
Dr Reid changed his mind about a ban after a report, by the government’s Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, confirmed that passive smoking massively increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease. Until recently Dr Reid was against any ban.
VIBRATING condom designed to give women double the pleasure during lovemaking is set to go on sale.
The Japanese-designed condom — which has vibrating ring fitted at its base — is being tested by porn film stars.
One male actor said: “The women have been thrilled with this.
“It makes it possible for them to experience two pleasures simultaneously.
“This condom is very popular and will be a big hit on the market.”
The makers claim they have done extensive research on the new condom, which is controlled by a wireless receiver.
They even claim to have sent hundreds of researchers to brothels to test-drive the device.