Cigar Smoking in London. Where, please?
This morning I found the following email waiting for me:
We are going to London at the end of this month. I keep hearing about a smoking ban (with a few exceptions). As a three-a-dayer, I was planning on taking thirty Famous cigars with me. Am I wasting my time (and cigars)? Could you give me a general idea of the ban? It's hard enough to keep track of the bans here. Thanks. – Bill M.
Having never been to London (don't get around much anymore), I wasn't able to give Bill an answer based on my personal experience. We have posted several articles about the effects of the UK Smoking ban on CigarAdvisor.com, but not all that much on the ban itself. So I did a little research and came up with a few odds & ends that I thought would at least help put the situation into perspective.
According to a BBC News article published prior to July 2007, when the ban went into effect: "The ban covers virtually all enclosed public places including offices, factories, pubs and bars, but not outdoors or in private homes." The rest of the article was just mush about how much better life will be once the ban goes into effect, yadda, yadda, yadda.
I also found a recent blog by Cigar Aficionado editor, Gordon Mott, titled "Thoughts on the U.K." in which he talks about a friend's cigar smoking experience in London.
Frankly, I wish I knew more about the London smoking ban, but from what I could gather, the law seems pretty straight-forward. Moreover, from what I've read about enforcement of the ban, the Brits have torqued the screws down tight, but many pubs, particularly in the suburbs, are fighting back.
Merely as a presumption, I suggested to Bill that some London hotels may have designated smoking floors/rooms as they do here in The States, so he should check with his hotel first, but not to hold his breath. If the hotel has a good concierge, he or she should know where he could enjoy his cigars in peace.
Googling "London Cigar Bars" came up with a link at aficionado.org.uk that displays a list of cigar bars, hotels, and clubs. But the page warned that due to the new ban, they couldn't guarantee you'd still be able to smoke a cigar in any number of the spots on the list. The search term also came up with many direct links to the cigar bars, et. al., themselves, which might be more up-to-date.
Finally, I told Bill to bring his cigars anyway. My theory is, you never know where or when you'll find the opportunity to light-up, so you might as well be prepared. I also added he bring along some extra cash in case he found a cigar store, and might be obligated to purchase a stick in order to smoke, as Mr. Mott indicated in his blog. With the Euro being what it is, I added not to pick anything too "rare" unless he thought it was really worth it.
So now I'm reaching out to you. If anyone reading this has been to London recently and can shed any light on this subject, please leave a comment – and thanks.