Violance at work...just for a shag (a weight of tobacco)

One in 10 hospitality workers has suffered violence from customers flouting the smoking ban, a new survey reveals
London, UK - 03 October 2007 - Since the smoking ban came into force in June, over 10% of hospitality workers have suffered threats or actual violence after asking customers to stop smoking.

A survey of over 5,000 hospitality workers, published today , reveals shocking testimonials from workers who report being hit, spat at, strangled and sexually abused.

The survey included responses from all areas of the hospitality industry including chefs, restaurant managers, hotel managers and waiting staff across the UK. It found that over 40% of respondents reported asking customers to stop smoking after the ban came into effect and many have suffered abuse as a result.

Personal testimonies include:

"When I told him to put his cigarette out, he pulled down his pants and started masturbating in front of me."

"I was told by a female customer that she’d make a sexual complaint against me if she was not allowed to smoke."

"An angry Norwegian gentleman took none too kindly to being politely asked to extinguish his cigarette. In fact he took it so badly he decided to bash the security staff, and any other member of staff within arms length. He was later detained at Her Majesty’s pleasure."

"I asked a young man to stop smoking and he told me to **** off. When I asked him to leave he refused and threw punches as I tried to eject him."

"A customer told me that if I didn’t get out of his face he would smack me one."

"Some guy pulled a belt round my neck and tried to strangle me."

"I had a four inch lock knife pulled on me just because I politely asked a well-dressed young woman to extinguish a cigarette. I consider myself very lucky not to have been injured."

The introduction of the smoking ban has been particularly tough for hospitality workers. The level of violence experienced by some people when trying to enforce the ban with customers is shocking.

In spite of the threat of violence, nearly 80% of hospitality staff said they were happier at work now smoking had been banned and a similar amount (79%) said they felt healthier.

However, nearly a third (32%) of respondents said they felt their business was under threat because smokers had been driven away, while 16% reported an actual drop in revenue.

Despite this, nearly a third (31%) said the type of customer visiting their workplace had changed for the better.
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