Friday, 16 January 2009

Smoke effects obscured

There can be little doubt that when the dust settles from the current recession, many thousands of pubs across the country will have closed their doors for good. But, when the history comes to be written, there is a distinct risk that the contribution of the smoking ban to this decline will be forgotten. Before the storm of recession broke, over 2,000 pubs nationwide had already shut because of the ban. Several thousand more would have closed even if the economy had remained in rude health. As a rough estimate, I would say that the smoking ban knocked between 10 and 15% off the wet trade of the entire pub sector. In many wet-led pubs, the decline was 33% or more. Such a decline would inevitably have led to widespread closures.

And don’t forget that many of the pubs that will be victims of the recession over the next couple of years would have stood a much better chance of survival without the smoking ban, something the antismokers will never admit.


  1. I'm a non-smoker, but I couldn't agree with you more. If there had to be legislation on smoking, it should have been allowed to continue in pubs, but be confined to one specific room. Unfortunately the majority of multi-room pubs have long been converted into charaterless, open-plan, drinking barns.

  2. Agreed, and if that law had come in we would have seen a lot of walls going back up in open-plan pubs.

    However I suspect that many pubs would have ended up being divided between a smoking "bar" and a non-smoking food/family area, so some of CAMRA's diehard antismokers might not have been too happy.

  3. Most people who use pubs are not Camra members. Therefore, it would make good business sense to consider their preferences (prejudices?) in due proportion. If they are unhappy then they could get their own pub. I heard a rumour that they opened a club in Stockport but it failed. I am not one to listen to such rumours though... Anyway, I would be happy with the split you suggest; a welcome split that I remember from my childhood.


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