TRIVIA: The first and last operators to ban smoking

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AY1975

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Until the 1990s smoking was usually allowed on the top decks of double decker buses (often restricted to the rearmost seats by about the 1970s or '80s, but in practice this rule was often ignored) and in the rearmost seats on single decker buses and coaches.

I think London buses went fully non-smoking in about 1990 or 1991. I think the ban took effect on Valentine's Day that year, and they had a publicity campaign with heart-shaped no smoking signs to announce the ban.

I also seem to recall that London single deckers were already completely non-smoking in the 1970s and '80s (although I don't think London had many single deck routes in those days) and that already in the 1980s Greater Manchester buses had "Please do not smoke" signs at both ends of the top deck (although it may have been more of a courtesy thing than an actual byelaw or condition of carriage back then).

On the other hand, I can remember seeing a Nottingham City Transport bus in about 2000 that still had a sign announcing that NCT was going fully non-smoking from 1st January 1993. This would suggest that NCT may have been one of the last bus operators in the UK to do so.

I also seem to recall still seeing passengers smoking in the rear seats on route 140 in Derbyshire (Alfreton to Matlock) in about 1992. Not sure who the operator was at that time: at the start of deregulation it was Maun, then it was Mansfield & District for a short while, then I think it was Whites of Calver for a time, and for most of the 1990s and early 2000s it was Stagecoach East Midland.

Apart from London single deckers and (at least unofficially) Greater Manchester buses, can anyone remember any operators that were already completely non-smoking in the 1980s or earlier, or that still allowed smoking later than about 1993?
 
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I was thinking about starting this thread just the other day.

Alas I can't remember the dates but not long after deregulation the company I worked for, Northumbria banned smoking entirely. At a guess I would say about 1990.

I recall they were mad keen to catch someone, I suggested getting on a late night service at the weekend, how we all laughed.

Anyway, they did eventually catch an old lady smoking, and it made the papers, the lady said it was her only pleasure in life.

I have in the past slung drunks off my bus for smoking. Once had a young lad light up on the mini bus I was driving, I got up to tell him to put it out but he had stamped it out by the time I got there, he denied smoking and said it was someone else.

There was only me and him on the bus.

As a child I loathed going upstairs on the bus as the " air" was barely breathable. We live in a very different world now, thankfully.

Edit, to answer the question you asked in the other thread, nearly all the buses ( and trolley buses) were deckers and smoking was upstairs only, this rule didn't appear to matter to the ducks who smoked where they wished.

By the time I started driving single deckers were more common and smoking was at the rear, but this was elastic and people would smoke where they wished provided they were unable to get a seat far enough back, I think that was always the case?. If that makes sense?
 
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Roger1973

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My earliest memories of London buses are towards the late 70s, and I don't remember smoking being allowed anywhere on single deckers then.

In to the 80s, smokers were "asked to occupy the rear seats" on the top deck of double deckers, although this was not very well followed or enforced

The small Kent independent Thames Weald banned smoking fairly early on (notice to passengers here) but I can't trace an exact date
 

Swanny200

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I can remember smoking on a train in about 1997 maybe later on an HST London to Aberdeen, but IIRC I couldn't smoke on the same coach journey from the early 90's at least which was one of the reasons for taking the train and the time meaning I could take in the sights during the day rather than try and sleep on a coach, I know I couldn't smoke on buses by then at all, the last time I remember anyone smoking on a bus must have been a few years earlier, I think Grampian was early 90's, I know M&D was maybe a bit later as I can remember smoking on an Invictaway service in about 1993.
 

AY1975

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Was smoking always restricted to the rearmost seats on single deckers (at least outside London), or was it allowed everywhere on single deckers at one time (probably until about the 1970s)?

I seem to recall that some old single deckers, such as Bristol REs and LHs, had cigarette stubbers on the back of every seat, which would suggest that it was allowed in all seats when they were first built.
 

jammy36

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There are some references to smoking bans in back issues of Commercial Motor. Fascinating to see the gradual change in attitude. As examples, there is a note from May 1963 about Ribble banning smoking in lower saloons of double deckers in June 1963. By 1971 the Royal College of Physicians had called for a complete ban on smoking in buses, but there was resistance from the industry.

There is also a fascinating exchange from the House of Lords from 1992 recorded in Hansard on National Express's ban on smoking on their coaches.


Smoking Ban: National Express Proposal
HL Deb 27 October 1992 vol 539 cc1016-81016
§3.15 p.m.

§Lord Orr-Ewing asked Her Majesty's Government:

§Whether the proposed ban on all smoking on National Express coaches, which have 80 per cent. of the long-distance market, is in accordance with the individual rights of their 3½ million passengers who smoke.

The Earl of Caithness My Lords, this is a matter for the commercial judgment of the operators concerned.
§Lord Orr-Ewing My Lords, is my noble friend aware that British Rail continues to squeeze the 20 per cent. of its clients who are smokers into a smaller proportion of each train and that coaches are to follow the same policy? Is my noble friend further aware that a small group of people travelling from, say, Swindon to London next Monday will be banned from smoking on coaches? They may be unemployed and hard up and will obtain a competitive return fare which is £ 8 cheaper than British Rail's but they will be banned from smoking. What right has a large organisation to claim that it represents 90 per cent. of its customers and will not therefore allow smoking? I am not a smoker but I suggest that the Government have a responsibility to protect the rights of minorities. People who smoke feel strongly about the issue. Why should they not be allowed to smoke in moderation and have a special area on every conveyance reserved for their purposes?
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, I am surprised that my noble friend wishes the Government to intervene in the commercial judgment of operators. I should have thought that he would have supported me on that issue.
§Lord Mason of Barnsley My Lords, is it not apparent that the anti-smoking dictators are at it again? Will the Minister advise National Express that we still have the right and the freedom to enjoy smoking tobacco? Will he also advise the 3½ million smokers to change to the small operators and therefore have the pleasure of seeing the profits of National Express fall while they go up in smoke in its competitors' coaches?
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, I am sure that the customer will look at every opportunity available.
1017
§Lord Monson My Lords, is the Minister aware that National Express is not an ordinary commercial organisation? It has a quasi-monopoly on most routes. As such it has a duty to cater for all those who are obliged to use its services for want of anything better—not merely non-smokers. Why cannot the organisation reserve a few seats at the back of each coach, as is done on aircraft, and thereby make everyone happy?
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, as regards smoking National Express has undertaken a considerable consumer survey of passengers who use its coaches and has come down firmly in this direction.
§Lord Beloff My Lords, is my noble friend aware of a recent survey which shows that the dangers from passive smoking are greater than medical opinion had previously believed? Is he further aware that to old age pensioners such as myself who are without a motor car and who depend on public transport the elimination of smoking brings comfort in our dwindling lives?
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, that only goes to show that it would be wrong for the Government to become involved. Let us leave the matter to the commercial operators.
§Lord Ennals My Lords, do Ministers agree with the evidence about passive smoking? Is there not overwhelming evidence to show that people who are forced to inhale other people's tobacco smoke at home, in offices or on coaches are suffering and becoming ill? Is it not right that the views of the majority as opposed to the views of the minority should carry, and is not the coach company to be congratulated on the initiative which it proposes to take?
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, the Government's position on the Froggatt Report, an independent scientific report on smoking and health published in 1988, brought to people's attention the considerable evidence of the dangers of passive smoking. I repeat that is a matter for the operators and not for the Government.
§Lord Stoddart of Swindon My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that when the industry was under public ownership, people had a lot more freedom? Is he further aware that there is absolutely no reason why people who do not smoke should be forced to inhale other people's smoke? It is perfectly possible these days to separate smokers and non-smokers, both on railways and in coaches. Would it not be far better if the national bus company did its best to please all its customers and did not give in to the opinions of one section?
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, although the noble Lord contends that there was more freedom when National Express was publicly owned, I am sure that he will now agree that it produces a far better service in the private sector.
§Lord Clinton-Davis My Lords, does the Minister appreciate that many Members of the House will agree with his view that this is not a matter for 1018government interference? Having said that, is it not right that we should compliment National Express coaches on their initiative, bearing in mind that this is not a question, is it, of convenience? It is a question of danger to the health of those people who wish to travel free from the risks of passive smoking.
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, as regards the first part of the question, I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord Clinton-Davis, is able to agree with the Government's position. As regards the second part of his question, it is a matter for the commercial operators. There is a difference of opinion, which has been clearly represented in the House today.
The Earl of Halsbury My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that in the United States of America there is no smoking on any railway but there is a club car attached to every train in which one can smoke, drink and talk to friends? Why can we not do the same?
The Earl of Caithness My Lords, as we are talking about buses, that rather restricts me in the answer I can give the noble Earl.
§Lord Orr-Ewing My Lords, will my noble friend publish the proof which he has about passive smoking? A large body of opinion all over the world believes that it is not as injurious as people are now taking for granted? The case is not proven. Will he therefore publish proof which is accepted by a majority of medical experts?
The Earl of Caithness: My Lords, we have now gone completely off the subject of buses and are talking about reports on passive smoking. I shall however draw the matter to the attention of my noble friend who has, in fact, been listening to the exchanges.
 

Cambus731

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Eastern National must have been amongst the first. Think they banned it not long after the management buy out. So probably 1987
 

AY1975

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There are some references to smoking bans in back issues of Commercial Motor. Fascinating to see the gradual change in attitude. As examples, there is a note from May 1963 about Ribble banning smoking in lower saloons of double deckers in June 1963.
I thought it was always banned on the lower decks of double decker buses, just as AFAIK it was always banned on the lower decks and allowed on the top decks of double decker trams.
 

PG

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I can remember smoking on a train in about 1997 maybe later on an HST London to Aberdeen, but IIRC I couldn't smoke on the same coach journey from the early 90's at least which was one of the reasons for taking the train and the time meaning I could take in the sights during the day rather than try and sleep on a coach, I know I couldn't smoke on buses by then at all, the last time I remember anyone smoking on a bus must have been a few years earlier, I think Grampian was early 90's, I know M&D was maybe a bit later as I can remember smoking on an Invictaway service in about 1993.
I thought it was always banned on the lower decks of double decker buses, just as AFAIK it was always banned on the lower decks and allowed on the top decks of double decker trams.
Grampian went completely non smoking in March 1993, prior to that smoking was accepted on the entire top deck of the, almost completely, double deck fleet.

Both decks just had cartoon style posters on the cove panels with a "please don't smoke" message but no actual no smoking signs. I recall in 1990 or 1991 a young lady boarding and sitting in the middle of the lower saloon opposite the centre exit, Grampian being an operator of dual door buses. She then lit a cigarette and happily puffed away without anyone saying anything, not even to encourage her to go and sit upstairs though she did get quite a few odd looks. That was the only time I ever saw anyone smoking on the lower deck of any operators buses.

Changing location - Badgerline banned smoking in 1988 but neighbouring Wilts & Dorset still allowed it. Both jointly operated the X4 Bristol - Salisbury service, leading to a good few years when half the buses on the route were non smoking and half weren't. I don't recall seeing anything in the timetable about smoking just a headnote denoting which operator ran that time. Often led to a bit of confusion at Bristol end of the route with people 'pouncing' upon smokers who would then point out the lack of no smoking signs at the rear of the bus.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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In my homeland, Darlington Transport banned it in 1988/9. The competing United minibuses were already non smoking but conventional United buses were either smoking upstairs (DD) or rear seats (SD).

I seem to recall that one of the last firms was Brewers (when a Badgerline firm) on account of the heavy number of smokers in the area.
 
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When Bristol Cityline (long before FirstGroup was a thing) introduced their Ford and Mercedes minibuses they were No Smoking from the start. This was 1986 from memory. It didn’t take too long to percolate to the rest of the fleet, with new arrivals of full-size buses also being No Smoking from their entry into service, and repainted/refurbished VRs and Olympians joining in.
 

Swanny200

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Grampian went completely non smoking in March 1993, prior to that smoking was accepted on the entire top deck of the, almost completely, double deck fleet.

Both decks just had cartoon style posters on the cove panels with a "please don't smoke" message but no actual no smoking signs. I recall in 1990 or 1991 a young lady boarding and sitting in the middle of the lower saloon opposite the centre exit, Grampian being an operator of dual door buses. She then lit a cigarette and happily puffed away without anyone saying anything, not even to encourage her to go and sit upstairs though she did get quite a few odd looks. That was the only time I ever saw anyone smoking on the lower deck of any operators buses.

Changing location - Badgerline banned smoking in 1988 but neighbouring Wilts & Dorset still allowed it. Both jointly operated the X4 Bristol - Salisbury service, leading to a good few years when half the buses on the route were non smoking and half weren't. I don't recall seeing anything in the timetable about smoking just a headnote denoting which operator ran that time. Often led to a bit of confusion at Bristol end of the route with people 'pouncing' upon smokers who would then point out the lack of no smoking signs at the rear of the bus.
I knew Grampian was before 1995, I always remember the stale smoke smell on the upstairs of the Atlanteans along with the flattened cigarette butts on the floor, never seemed to remember anyone smoking on the E reg Olympians upstairs though, which makes me wonder if I just hadn't seen it or whether they were fitted with no smoking signs from new.
 

GusB

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I can't remember exactly when smoking was banned in my neck of the woods, but prior to this it had been been restricted to the rear of single-deck buses and the upper deck of double-deckers.

On single-decks there was a sign that was placed on the windows that read "Smokers must sit to the rear of this point", or something along those lines.

In the early 90s, Highland won the contract to run our evening and Sunday services. I recall having a conversation with one of their drivers who had challenged a couple of girls who boarded and asked for half fares. The subsequent conversation between them went along the lines of "either put the fag out or cough up the full fare" (the legal age was 16 for tobacco products at this time).
 

Swanny200

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I can't remember exactly when smoking was banned in my neck of the woods, but prior to this it had been been restricted to the rear of single-deck buses and the upper deck of double-deckers.

On single-decks there was a sign that was placed on the windows that read "Smokers must sit to the rear of this point", or something along those lines.

In the early 90s, Highland won the contract to run our evening and Sunday services. I recall having a conversation with one of their drivers who had challenged a couple of girls who boarded and asked for half fares. The subsequent conversation between them went along the lines of "either put the fag out or cough up the full fare" (the legal age was 16 for tobacco products at this time).

Yeah, I remember conversations like that even on the trains, you would see kids walk up to the ticket office, cigarette in hand asking for a child single and getting rebuffed at the kiosk, mind you the legal age might have been 16, but a lot of people forgot that it was just for purchasing tobacco, not for smoking it.
 

PG

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Yeah, I remember conversations like that even on the trains, you would see kids walk up to the ticket office, cigarette in hand asking for a child single and getting rebuffed at the kiosk, mind you the legal age might have been 16, but a lot of people forgot that it was just for purchasing tobacco, not for smoking it.
I don't think your last bit is right? Pre 2006 the legal age to purchase tobacco products was 16, but AFAIK there wasn't a legal age for smoking! Thus while an under 16 year old wasn't breaking the law by smoking they weren't legally able to buy cigarettes.
 

Swanny200

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I don't think your last bit is right? Pre 2006 the legal age to purchase tobacco products was 16, but AFAIK there wasn't a legal age for smoking! Thus while an under 16 year old wasn't breaking the law by smoking they weren't legally able to buy cigarettes.
That is what I meant, sorry if it didn't come out as meant, I started smoking cigarettes at 13, I wasn't breaking the law at 13 smoking them, however if I went into a shop and tried to purchase I would be, although it would more than likely the business owner who would face the law. There were a couple of the ticket kiosk workers in Kent that would happily say to a few of my mates at the time who were 14 or 15 and getting the train into school "If you can smoke, then you can afford an adult ticket"
 

Busaholic

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My earliest memories of London buses are towards the late 70s, and I don't remember smoking being allowed anywhere on single deckers then.

In to the 80s, smokers were "asked to occupy the rear seats" on the top deck of double deckers, although this was not very well followed or enforced

The small Kent independent Thames Weald banned smoking fairly early on (notice to passengers here) but I can't trace an exact date
I first travelled on single deck London buses in the very early 1950s and I'm convinced smoking was never allowed on them at that time. probably as much for the sake of the crews as the other passengers. LT disposed of their last rear entrance single deckers much earlier than most, and the RF pictured at the top of this page took over the vast majority of s/d routes during that decade, so smokers would have passed open-cabbed drivers as well as conductors if they'd been allowed to. When I started using buses in Preston in 1969 I was amazed to discover smoking had been allowed on lower decks of d/ds within recent memory, again not L.T. practice in my lifetime.
 

Swanny200

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I first travelled on single deck London buses in the very early 1950s and I'm convinced smoking was never allowed on them at that time. probably as much for the sake of the crews as the other passengers. LT disposed of their last rear entrance single deckers much earlier than most, and the RF pictured at the top of this page took over the vast majority of s/d routes during that decade, so smokers would have passed open-cabbed drivers as well as conductors if they'd been allowed to. When I started using buses in Preston in 1969 I was amazed to discover smoking had been allowed on lower decks of d/ds within recent memory, again not L.T. practice in my lifetime.
Did L.T still allow smoking on the lower decks of routemasters seeing as it had the open rear, I remember seeing the conductors smoking on the rear deck for sure in the early 90's and would the driver get away with it seeing as his space was enclosed?
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Did L.T still allow smoking on the lower decks of routemasters seeing as it had the open rear, I remember seeing the conductors smoking on the rear deck for sure in the early 90's and would the driver get away with it seeing as his space was enclosed?
Drivers were not generally allowed to smoke - I think in case they had some form of coughing fit, or if it distracted them.
 

PG

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Drivers were not generally allowed to smoke - I think in case they had some form of coughing fit, or if it distracted them.
IIRC at one time (pre 2006?) the PSV regs did contain some wording along the lines of:
Drivers shall not smoke, except when the vehicle is hired as a whole and both the operator and hirer have given permission​
That being said I'm sure one of the questions I got at the end of my test, before the examiner told me I'd passed, was what mustn't you do when driving a PSV that you can in any other vehicle?
 

JonathanH

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I recall that on my school bus in the late 1980s, small operator to a 11-16 comprehensive, there were some characters who would go down to the driver and ask "can the fifth years smoke at the back?" The best drivers would say no - others would say "so long as you don't make a mess" and others didn't care. Even worse if the driver was a smoker as well. Some of the buses were relatively low capacity so little escape. Over my time at school, smoking on the buses / coaches did reduce however to the extent that I don't recall it in the later years.

I note that some independent operators didn't extend the no smoking signs very far back from the front of their vehicles.
 

TechDan2002

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Can remember seeing the following sticker at the front on the top deck of one of Cornwall by Kernow’s SF07 B7TL Geminis last November:
72146872-74DE-4357-B72C-56BF1B311A13.jpeg
From 1st July [2007] smoking on this bus is against the law and if you are seen smoking at anytime you risk being fined up to £50. This applies to cigarettes, pipes, cigars and herbal cigarettes. If you would like help to stop smoking, free support is available from NHS Smoking Helpline 0800 169 0169 (open daily from 7am to 11pm).

I’m strongly assuming smoking would have been banned by the operator as a condition of carriage decades before though.
 

RT4038

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In my homeland, Darlington Transport banned it in 1988/9. The competing United minibuses were already non smoking but conventional United buses were either smoking upstairs (DD) or rear seats (SD).

I seem to recall that one of the last firms was Brewers (when a Badgerline firm) on account of the heavy number of smokers in the area.

I think Darlington Transport banned smoking on buses long before that - 1984, or possibly 85? It was quite controversial at the time, with the drivers having a two hour stoppage over the possible conflict. Maybe this was reversed after dereg for a period?
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I think Darlington Transport banned smoking on buses long before that - 1984, or possibly 85? It was quite controversial at the time, with the drivers having a two hour stoppage over the possible conflict. Maybe this was reversed after dereg for a period?
No, I think you're right - they were early adopters; I just thought it was later. Had a check on Flickr and indeed, some of the single deck Fleetlines did indeed carry notices to that effect in 1985 but not in 1984 so that tallies. Thanks for the correction :D

As an aside, when dereg came about in 1986, it meant that if you travelled from Darlington to Stockton or Spennymoor, then you could smoke except on a Sunday (or night to Spenny) when DTC operated. Whereas those wanting a fag on the town routes couldn't except on selected Sunday routes where United would run under tender and put out Nationals rather than minibuses!
 

Darandio

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Drivers were not generally allowed to smoke - I think in case they had some form of coughing fit, or if it distracted them.

Never stopped any of John Martindales lot! :lol:

I also certainly recall people on United single decker's taking no notice of whether they had to be near the rear or not when going with my mum on near daily trips from Ferryhill to Spennymoor. It's probably because it was full of the same old faces every day and nearly all of them smoked, they couldn't all go to the back.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Never stopped any of John Martindales lot! :lol:

I also certainly recall people on United single decker's taking no notice of whether they had to be near the rear or not when going with my mum on near daily trips from Ferryhill to Spennymoor. It's probably because it was full of the same old faces every day and nearly all of them smoked, they couldn't all go to the back.

Not that many seats on an LH!

As for Martindales, they weren’t a byword for quality. My dad was a United driver and got booked a few times for smoking!
 

RT4038

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Nobody would have lasted long smoking whilst driving at Darlington Borough Transport!
 
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