Butt out, says Norwich Union

Article date: 23 April 2004

Insurer Norwich Union is urging pub landlords to check theirfire precautions following last week’s surprise announcementfrom JD Wetherspoon calling for a ban on smoking across all of its640 pubs.

John Smeaton, head of property underwriting at Norwich Union,said: "A total ban on smoking inside a building brings a new riskof fire caused by smokers gathering outside – or can evenlead to surreptitious smoking.

"With the UK Government looking to follow Ireland’sno-smoking lead, landlords should be putting provisions in place toproperly manage both risks.

"Our experience shows that nearly 10% of all fires resulting inloss of life and damage to property in bars, pubs and restaurantsare caused by discarded cigarettes – and it’s an easyarea to overlook.¹

"Pub and restaurant owners need to carefully assess the risks ofpeople smoking outside their premises, particularly if there arerubbish bins or storage areas nearby.

"A designated area outside or a covered shelter should beprovided, of non-combustible construction and equipped with bins orsand buckets specifically designed for smokers’ waste toallow cigarettes to be put out properly rather than discarded atrandom.

"Waste smoking materials must not be disposed of with generalrubbish, where they could smoulder and set light to it.

"An inspection of the buildings for smouldering cigarettes ormatches should be carried out by designated employees at the closeof each working day, as most large fires in commercial premisesoccur at night, often as a result of carelessly discarded cigaretteends or cleaners emptying cigarette ends into bags containingcombustible waste.

"We would advise all pub and restaurant owners to take advicefrom their insurance providers."


¹ The Fire Protection Association Library of Fire Safety,Yearbook 2003.

For further information, please contact:
Alison Owen or Debbie Wells at Staniforth on 0161 274 0100 or
David Ross at Norwich Union on 08703 66 68 65/07786 526350.

Notes to editors

  • Norwich Union is the UK's largest insurer with a market shareof around 14%
  • With a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses, Norwich Union insures:
    • one in five households
    • one in seven motor vehicles
    • more than 800,000 businesses
  • Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners suchas banks and building societies and Norwich Union Direct
  • Norwich Union’s news releases and a selection of imagesare available on the Aviva internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media
  • An ISDN facility is available for studio quality broadcast.Call the press office on 08703 66 68 68
  • For all life & pensions media enquiries 08703 66 6873
  • For all other media enquiries 08703 66 68 68

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