Part Two - Bans and Enforcement
Like many of you, I received my Season Ticket on Saturday morning, along with a ticket for the Reading friendly. One thing that was very noticeable on both was the line that, for the upcoming season, Molineux is being considered a non-smoking venue. I`m not going to open the can of worms about whether the ban is a "good thing", or indeed about whether Wolves are acting voluntarily in this or whether a football ground should be considered a "substantially enclosed public space" and therefore strictly subject to the new legislation that came into force on 1 July. There has been plenty of lively debate on both of these points, and I am not sure I would be adding to it here.
What I want to consider here is enforcement of the ban. Will the Stewards, or indeed other Wolves fans, react if someone lights a cigarette in the stadium?
I recall that the Walkers stadium in Leicester was (voluntarily) smoke-free last season, but Stewards took the attitude that, if a smoker couldn`t see the pitch and was out of the way, they were quite happy to turn a blind eye. It could be argued that the same will apply at Molineux (if the club consider the ban to be voluntary rather than legislation enforced), but I don`t believe that holds water. If I can draw a parallel with station platforms to explain, these are now uniformly non-smoking, even though the vast majority of them are outside and certainly not enclosed. If this a voluntary act by the rail companies to avoid confusion, it is now being rigorously enforced, and I anticipate the same in our ground.
Will Stewards be trained on this point? Will they have powers of enforcement and ejection for those that light up? I believe that Wolves must not be silent on this point and should make the point as clear as possible, preferably on both the official site and in the match programme.
I have also seen debate about whether the club may consider issuing passes so that hardened addicts could pop out for a legal cigarette at half-time. Logistically that would be a problem for the club to administer, and you could have issues with the turnstiles as everyone tries to re-enter the ground in time, with tickets and passes needing to be checked. I believe that makes the idea a non-starter, even if the club didn`t consider it reasonable to expect the fans to last 2 hours without their fix. The airlines already expect their customers to last a hell of a lot longer than that.
My other point is that the City Council are going to have a requirement for under cover inspectors to help enforce the ban and they have a handy body of people from whom they could take their pick. Data Protection Law prevents them having access to the season ticket list in order to make contact, but there is nothing to prevent them placing an advert in the programme tempting STH`s with a small reduction if they agree to act as tobacco Nazis and shop their fellow fans. Would you be tempted if Big Brother came calling for you?
In the meantime - see you in the Western when I`m not stood outside in the rain having a drag.