New research by CR Consulting shows that the smoking ban “is demonstrably the most significant cause of pub closures” over the past three years. The article describes it as “shock proof”, whereas I would have thought it was more a case of demonstrating the bleeding obvious, but there are still Gillian Merron-type deniers around who wilfully refuse to believe the evidence of their own eyes. The report predicts pub numbers will continue to fall, with another 1,700 to close in England before the fourth anniversary of the ban in July 2011.
It makes the point – raised more than once by commenters on this blog – that pubs cannot justify a price premium if all they can offer is expecting their customers to stand out in the street. It also explains how the impact of the ban on trade is not a one-off hit, but a slow, gradual process of the “loss of sociability”. It is still closing pubs today, and will continue to do so for many years to come.