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Max hates smoke

Why a Nightclub Should Ban Smoking

by Ben Clissold


All clubs must have non-smoking areas by Sep 2002

Let's get logical for just a moment. The nightclub industry is supposed to be kind of with-it. It has to be in touch with its audience to survive. It has to keep up with the times. So why in a time when smoking is banned in just about every public place, is it still allowed in clubs?

I really cannot think of a good reason why it is allowed, but I can think of many good reasons to ban it. Purely from a marketing perspective, there is a huge benefit in being first, but just imagine the opportunities to reach new markets. Ask a first time clubber about their experience, and most will mention the smokiness. In many cases it is the reason they never return. This is especially the case for former smokers, and people with breathing conditions.

Reformed smokers cannot handle the smoke of others. They have been determined to quit, so will not subject themselves to smoky surrounds. People suffering from Asthma, and other respiratory problems also suffer badly to cigarette smoke. Coughing fits and asthma attacks are too big a risk, so they stay home instead. Often without a choice.

Even those with a choice often choose to avoid clubs. Every non-smoking clubber hates arriving home smelling of smoke. This is especially the case for girls with long hair, and the more fashion conscience in the community. If you own expensive clothes, like jackets, you don’t want to have them dry cleaned every other day. According to my longer haired friends, sleeping with smoky hair is unbearable, so if they go clubbing, they get home early to clean their hair. Things like this have to be costing clubs patronage.

In my own case, I have chosen to avoid some venues, or rooms in venues, simply on the basis of smokiness. Somewhere classy like The Redhead or Bobby McGee’s is not so bad. Places like Rosie’s and the Hallam Hotel have beer gardens where you have fresh air. I wonder if this is the reason these are some of my favourite clubs.

Maybe it is just a perception thing, but I am sure the truly classy clubs are generally less smokey. Now is this because the clean air attracts class, or because classy people smoke less? Either way the two seem to go together.

Demographics may be an issue for some clubs, because some areas have more smokers than others, but when less than 25% of the community smokes, there have to be marketing gains to be made. Without writing a technical report on marketing and sales, you basically need to provide a product that the majority of people like, but it needs a point of difference to set it apart. If 75% of the community do not smoke, you would have a largely popular product. If you do it first, you have a point of difference, for a while at least, and can live off the innovative tag for a while longer.

If you add to this some free publicity for being first, and the chance that your standard of crowd could improve, you look a winner. If you expand the market to include those who hate clubs for the smokiness, you may need to extend your club.

For a club like Stylus, it might have made the difference. in their situation, they could even make just one room smoke free as a trial. It is a shame they did not have the courage to listen to that recommendation at the time.

I write this report in an attempt to make an overdue change that matters to people. I am quite serious about making this happen, and am happy to talk to any club that wants to do it. To return a favour to the club scene, I will quite happily donate my marketing services, and some ad space on this magazine, to whichever club does it first, to help them do it right.

If you agree with me, I would really appreciate your support. You could ask your favourite clubs to do it, write to the media, and become a regular at the first club to do it.

We will make this happen!

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