A number of theme parks have now taken the populist approach of becoming ‘smoke free’, although the reality is somewhat different.
Originating with the parks operated by Merlin Entertainments, smoking in queues has been ‘banned’ for several years now, with more generalised smoking bans claimed shortly after.
Alton Towers was among the first to provide designated smoking areas, which are claimed to be the only areas of the park where smoking is permitted.
The restriction also bizarrely includes the use of electronic cigarettes.
However, as is the case with conventional cigarettes, it is a normal occurrence to walk past members of staff while smoking and not be challenged.
Parks are quick to highlight the fact that they are ‘smoke free’, but in reality they do not sufficiently – if at all – encourage staff to challenge those smoking in queue lines and in general when moving around the park.
Smokers are always an easy target for victimisation – around 80% of adults in the UK do not smoke – but it interesting that cigarettes remain available to purchase at Merlin’s theme parks.
If the health and wellbeing of parks’ guests is of paramount importance, why not move to challenge the behaviour of those smokers that flout the rules? After all, they are a minority of a minority.
It seems that bosses have calculated that the implications of aggravating any guest in direct confrontation are just not worth it.