Bus is a big drag for West Coast addicts

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The Independent Online
Harassed smokers in Half Moon Bay, one of the most popular surfing spots in north California, have been offered a refuge - a red British double- decker bus. California banned smoking in bars on 1 January. Some landlords opened smoking patios and decks, amid yowls of protest about the nanny state.

But at Cameron's Inn, one of several British pubs in California, owner Cameron Palmer found a different solution. "We do have a certain number of customers that do smoke, and like to smoke, especially when they are having a beer. So being the owner I started getting a little worried about what's going to happen to business when this law comes into effect."

Fulfilling a long-held dream, he bought a 1966 Bristol bus and parked it on his property. The way the law is written, there can be no smoking inside an enclosed area, and no work force allowed to endure the dangers of second-hand smoke.

But there was apparently nothing to stop patrons strolling across to a vehicle, beer and cigarette in hand. For those who have ever endured the stale smoke and butt-laden top floor of a London bus, this is less than a fantasy. But Mr Palmer pulled out every other seat and made tables, carpeted the bus, and put in TV and stereo. "It's really quite comfortable in there now, on both levels, and its working out fabulously," he said.

It is also featured on his world wide web site, at http://www.cameronsinn.com.

The pub seats about 100, and serves British beer. Mr Cameron, the son of a Newcastle native, also has several British regulars, among them Richard Aloum, from London, who runs a chain of local restaurants. "Quite often the party from the bar transfers into the bus, depending on the people that are out there," said Mr Aloum. "It's not somewhere where you are a social pariah if you're sitting outside." Once in a while, he reported, the evening ends in a nostalgia trip to the local curry house.