Friday, 1 July 2011

None so blind

Well, four years of this blog and four years of the smoking ban, the two of course being very closely related. What a glorious achievement of public policy – over 8,000 pubs closed, on-trade beer sales down by more than 25%, social lives stubbed out, livelihoods wrecked.

I have never claimed it is a single-cause explanation, but the sheer scale of pub closures over the past four years is absolutely unprecedented, and only the most extreme and self-deluding antismoker will deny that the smoking ban has been a major cause.

And, of course, the argument against it is not just a utilitarian one that it has closed thousands of pubs. It is morally abhorrent - an obnoxious policy of intolerance, founded on hatred, bigotry and junk science, described by Lord Stoddart of Swindon as “one of the most restrictive, spiteful and socially divisive pieces of legislation imposed by any British Government.” It also sets a very clear precedent for what is increasingly happening to the alcohol industry. Anyone who claims to have the interests of pubs at heart who supports it is, frankly, either a fool or a knave. But there are none so blind as those who will not see.

In past years Pete Robinson has given us a few trenchant home truths on the subject in The Publican, but unfortunately that publication is now defunct and the Morning Advertiser doesn’t seem to have retained his services as a contributor, more’s the pity. Note the particularly vile comments from one antismoker on that thread.

One or two of the usual suspects have been whingeing about me harping on about this subject. Well, sorry, but the creation of this blog was prompted by the smoking ban and that, more than anything else, is at heart what it’s about. Are they going to go on the Daily Kitten and start saying “Hey, enough of all the moggies”?

41 comments:

  1. I suggest that pub prices have been as important a factor, if not a more important factor in contributing to pub closures; but let's not get into that any more.
    The task is for someone to start a campaign for some rowing back on the smoking ban - perhaps allowing smoking in specific areas of pubs (separate rooms or properly ventilated areas within one room establishments. But the irrational nonsense coming from the anti-smoking lobby will not be successfully countered by some of the equally absurd claims emanating from some pro-smoking groups.
    What is needed is a rational case for a relaxation, based on compromise and provable arguments, a case which should show up the nonsense of much of the anti smoking case.
    CAMRA could play a part in this. There are people within CAMRA who believe that joined up thinking is necessary to produce a package of measures to save pubs and to lobby hard for implementation.
    Unfortunately, this may be hard to achieve; CAMRA's response at its last AGM was to pass a motion condemning low supermarket prices and calling for a campaign to "highlight" this issue. As increasing supermarket prices will not get anyone back into pubs this feeble response falls a long way short of what is really needed.

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  2. Thank you for saying what you have so eloquently said. With so many heads buried in the sand wishing lies were truth, it's refreshing to see someone willing to stand up and take a more honest look at the landscape.

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  3. What is being proposed by the Save Our Pubs And Clubs Campaign is not a total repeal of the smoking ban, but allowing smoking in separate, ventilated rooms. If CAMRA actually is interested in saving pubs it should sign up to this.

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  4. If we put aside the arguments for / against this, would it not fail anyway as it is not exclusively a ban on smoking in pubs, but one on smoking where people are working? Therefore any change would have to apply to more than pubs would it not, or are you suggesting a special pleading for pubs?

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  5. I don't think there are "pro-smoking" groups. Smokers know it is a risky activity and would generally not encourage others to do it. These groups are "pro-choice." Pub prices might be a factor, but not much of one to anybody with a reasonable income. Just before the ban I was happily paying £1.50 for a half of Hoegaarden in the Bull's Head opposite Piccadilly Station. At the time, bitter was around £2 a pint. I haven't been in a pub since, but I've noticed all draught beers are £2 in the Polished Knob in Todmorden. I'm sure there are many places selling bitter for £2. This seems OK to me. Bottled English beers at £1.59 for 500ml sell well in my local Morrisons.

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  6. The "protecting the health of workers" argument is very effectively demolished here.

    The core reason behind the blanket smoking ban was never about protecting workers anyway, it was about discouraging smoking.

    I don't propose any special pleading for pubs - there are plenty of other businesses such as bingo halls and airports which might benefit from allowing separate indoor smoking areas.

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  7. "Dutch courage" is needed!

    http://www.dutchnews.nl/news/archives/2011/07/ashtrays_back_in_52_of_cafes_a.php

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  8. While you must be able to understand why I was pro-smoking ban (not being a smoker) I must say that I still think it was only partially responsible for the closure of some pubs. You know it's all about the supermarkets and their ludicrously cheap booze pricing that gets me riled up. All those people taking cheap cans of beer and bottles of wine for under £2.99 was a death sentance to a lot of pubs. I thought you would be against everything that was damaging to our pubs.

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  9. As I keep saying until I'm blue in the face, the relative economics of on- versus off-trade have not changed dramatically over the past four years.

    For two decades at least, pubs have been significantly more expensive than the off-trade. But they are selling an experience, not just booze.

    And if that experience means being forced out on to the street in the freezing cold if you want to have a fag, it's hardly surprising that many smokers have reached the conclusion that staying at home with a few cans or bottles from Tesco is a better option.

    Incidentally, I am not a smoker, so I fail to see why you reach the conclusion that any non-smoker should support the smoking ban.

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  10. Sorry the above comment was meant to be made by me, not Beer Ritz, I got confused with two blogs going at once. Beer Ritz has no need or wish to argue unless it's over beer :)

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  11. Tandleman,
    There are already exemptions from the smoking ban, such as off-shore installations for example but it won't be long before they go too. Sadly, popping out to my nearest oil rig for the pleasure of smoking and drinking with a roof over my head is a little inconvienient. There is really no sensible reason for any work place not to have seperate/well ventilated smoking rooms but the reason why this is not acceptable to the anti-smoking lobby is that their ultimate aim is to restrict smoking to private outdoor places at the very least and at the most total prohibition. That is easy to understand, they want to use the law to stop people smoking every where north of the south pole because using the law will work better than anything else. To me, the biggest obstical to decriminalising smoking in pubs is my fellow pub goers. If the boot were on the other foot, I really don't know how I would
    go about making the case for all smoke-free pubs to be abolished by law , make the case for non-smoking areas and smoke-free areas in pubs to be abolished against the will of publicans and their customers but I would never want to do it in the first place. Why should I? What do I care if a pub is smoke-free , I will just go to another pub. What do I care if a pub has a smoke-free area or a non-smoking area, I will just sit where smoking is permitted. That is what I don't understand about people that expect 100%
    of pubs to be smoke-free, it's not that I get the impression they want to protect people from a percieved health risk, it's more the fact that even if they believed there was no health risk whatsoever , they seem to think it is justified in any case. Why would someone think like that? I just don't get it.

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  12. Beer-Ritz (Ghost Drinker): There is an argument to be made that the smoking ban has made the problem (if there is one, I personally love it) of cheap supermarket booze more marked.

    Tesco et al aren't daft, their financial standing says as much. If an exodus has occurred from pubs - which would seem to be the consensus apart from the fantasists at ASH - supermarkets would be foolish if they didn't try to capitalise on it.

    If (for whatever reason) people are abandoning pubs but still enjoying beer, then one of their biggest ticket purchases in a weekly shop is going to be the booze (because of the duty). People don't choose a supermarket because their Heinz beans are 1p cheaper, but a quid or two here and there on the expensive stuff is going to be alluring.

    So if more people are drinking at home, supermarkets are being very clever by offering low-price beer to attract the weekly shopping cash.

    No matter whether you believe the ban has harmed pubs or not, it's perfectly clear that many smokers have decided pubs just aren't any fun anymore. And I reckon Tesco and their chums worked out about four years ago that there was a very good possibility that smokers would be a good source of revenue under the circs.

    CAMRA should be campaigning for a more equitable solution than the smoking ban if they truly want to see people drinking in pubs rather than at home with cheap supermarket grog.

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  13. Oh, how rude of me. Happy anniversary by the way, PC. :)

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  14. Day by day the madness still goes on. From the three towns I regulary visit its the same story.
    Go in a pub and its empty, walk to the beer garden and its full. Cometh the bad weather both the pub and beer garden empty. Next visit pub closed.
    Some turn into eating establishments, some struggle on for a bit but all suffer.

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  15. You may keep saying (until you are blue in the face) that the economics as between pub and supermarket prices have not changed, but the facts do not support you. Average pub prices have been rising in real terms for years; supermarket prices have not. So the relative pub price of a pint of dishwater lager (most peoples' drink of choice) has risen. And, irrespective of relativity. if the real price of something rises, then, unless real incomes grow to compensate, fewer people will be able to afford it.
    Explain if you will:
    The continued success of Wetherspoons, and some tied houses, who are not exempt from the smoking ban but who offer cheap pints of both lager and real ale.
    The fact that an acceleration in pub closures began well before the smoking ban was introduced but not before price relativity started to go wrong.

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  16. I did not say they had not changed at all - what I said (read the comment above) was that they had not changed dramatically over the past four years.

    And surely, far from "going wrong", the widening differential is an inevitable and indeed desirable consequence of society becoming more prosperous and therefore the prices of labour-intensive services rising more quickly than those of manufactured goods.

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  17. No, I do not advocate pubs being a special case. A compromise should apply to other public places such as restaurants and even trains. The test would have to be whether non smokers could be adequately protected from having to breathe in significant quantities of smoke against their will. References only to pubs simply reflect that this debate is about the smoking ban and its effect on pubs.

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  18. It's worth adding that the total volume of off-trade beer sales has broadly flatlined since 2004. They may have gained relative to pubs, but not absolutely.

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  19. Wow! You don't give up. So it's socially desirable to price the ordinary working man out of the pub now is it? It isn't the cost of wages which puts up pub prices but the cost of servicing pub company debt. Are you one of these New labour supporting CAMRA types who rejoice in the fact that pubs are being demographically cleansed of poor people? You are beginning to sound like it!

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  20. Simon Williams2 July 2011 at 08:51

    Anonymous. Please step away from the straw man.

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  21. Why is it that arguments about the smoking ban attract more anonymous contributors (on both sides of the argument) than almost anything else?

    Anyway, that's not why I dropped by. Just wondering - is your figure for pub closures net or gross of new pub/bar openings?

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  22. I've been accused of many things over the years, but never so far of being a supporter of New Labour!

    @JC: I believe the figures are taken from BBPA sources and are net of new openings.

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  23. Some people do like to bang on about cheap market booze. CAMRA and others were banging on about pre ban too. The first comes from the Guardian from 2004 and from CAMRA March 2007, four months before the ban.

    The first quote is from the Business Section of The Guardian from July 2004. “But supermarkets sold alcohol at a fraction of the price it was on sale for in pubs, he said. Some were selling brand name cider for 51p a can and export strength lager for 64p during the Euro 2004 football championships."

    In a letter dated 28th March 2007 Ian R Loe the Research Manager of CAMRA to the Competition Commission states:

    "Research by CAMRA in the period just before Christmas, sound that supermarkets were selling Fosters and Carling for the equivalent of 54p a pint...a pint of beer in a pub 148p to 213p from 1995 to 2005...the cost of supermarket lager ..the average price is down from 70.8p to 67.4p.."


    http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2004/jul/07/supermarkets.drugsandalcohol


    http://www.competition-commission.org.uk/inquiries/ref2006/grocery/pdf/responses_emerging_thinking_third_party_no_15.pdf

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  24. The most obvious evidence of this is from This Is Money where on the 21st September 2006 the prices in Tesco were listed for Fosters lager, Red Smirnoff Red Label Vodka and Jack Daniels. The 2010 prices were taken on the 12th August from tesco.com

    Beer and spirits
    2006 2010 2011

    4x 500 ml Fosters
    £3.53 £3.42* £3.97 *

    Red Smirnoff Vodka 70cl

    £9.79 £11.00 £14.29

    Jack Daniels 70cl
    £18.18 £20.49 £21.79

    Wine
    2004 2010 2011

    Wolf Blass Yellow Label

    £5.72 £6.74** £7.99

    Lindemans Bin 65 Chardonnay

    £5.69 £5.24*** £7.99

    Jacobs Creek Shiraz Cabernet 75cl

    £4.73 £5.24**** £7.99

    * (Adjusted from 440ml)

    ** (special offer reduced from £8.99)

    *** (special offer reduced from £6.99)

    **** (special offer reduced from £6.99)

    I hope this ends the urban myth that supermarket booze all of a sudden became cheap after the smoking ban.

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  25. You said (under a different heading) that the smoking ban was still having its effect 4 years after its introduction. Could that not also apply to relative prices? If it is true (and I am not sure if you are correct) that the price relativity between pubs and supermarkets hasn't changed much recently, then why is it not possible that earlier changes are still having an effect? Things certainly haven't got any better. Moreover, the recent spate of high street shop closures, a reflection that people are spending less in these uncertain times, probably applies to pub-going too. If I was a lager drinker worried about the economic future I might well opt to switch to home drinking and cut down on visits to the pub - and I don't smoke.
    I note you don't answer the points about the continued success of low price pub chains like those dreadful Wetherspoons; and the acceleration in pub closures which took place before the smoking ban.
    I wouldn't accuse you of being New Labour but you really should consider asking Enterprise or Punch to sponsor your blog. They must love your "blame most of it on the smoking ban" line.

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  26. "the acceleration in pub closures which took place before the smoking ban"

    There wasn't one. Pub closure figures from the BBPA:

    2004: 478
    2005: 102
    2006: 216
    2007: 1,409
    2008: 1,973
    2009: 2,365

    The only acceleration there is from the date the ban was implemented.

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  27. You and your contributors quote an impressive amount of "facts" and statistics in support of the various arguments-I admit from the outset that I don't have an array of such facts and statistics in support of my views but feel that they are worth expressing anyway.

    Were I a smoker I might feel hard done to by the smoking ban-I might even have expressed my displeasure by staying away from the pub for a while, but would I have ultimately felt so strongly that I would choose to forgo the social pleasure of my regular visits to the pub, to drink good ale and hopefully enjoy good company, in favour of a dull night in with a few cheap supermarket-sourced bottles? The short answer is no.

    So there is the essence of my argument-you are suggesting that smoking a cigarette indoors is the raison d'etre of visiting the pub, so important that being told you must now go outside to smoke said cigarette is enough to change your social habits to your own detriment (loss of the social side, the atmosphere and most of all the decent beer provided by your pub(s) of choice)- sorry but it just doesn't ring true.

    Try cheap supermarket beer, falling living standards, re-birth of Saturday night TV (shows like X-factor-and yes, to me that would be more reason to go to the pub, but this is about the bigger picture), fears of fuel induced violence and (some) poor and disinterested landlords just looking to turn a profit as possible factors (and no they're hardly original, but in my view genuine factors).

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  28. Yes, but for those of us that like their real ales, drinking from the supermarket isn't that cheap. You're talking the equivalent of £1.80-£2.10 a pint usually.

    I'm a non-smoker and I'm disillusioned with pubs, although I still visit them, for the following reasons:

    a) Not enough choice in beer styles. A good cask mild is increasingly difficult to find - one of those beers that's definitely better in cask form when done right rather than bottle.

    b) The beer is becoming more bland due to demand from their remaining customers and the tax situation. I'm not coming out to sit on my own, drinking bland beer when I can get better from the supermarket in many cases.

    c) Judgemental tossers, difficult punters, bullies. My developmental disability renders me far more vulnerable to prevent this sort of thing happening.

    d) My anger over the smoking ban - I'm a broken record in that respect. Like many here, I can see what's coming but people don't want to know.

    e) Having no social contacts when I'm there - if more people went to pubs, and the atmosphere was genuinely congenial as it was in the past, I may be more tempted to go.

    f) Pubs are expensive, but not that much more so than shops.

    g) The pubs I go to are no longer pubs, they're eating houses with a bar attached.

    If you like genuine microbrewery beers from specialist shops (or the brewery itself), forget it. There is no saving whatsoever. A bottle of microbrewed beer can cost as much as, if not more, than a pint in the pub. I frequently pay around £2.30 or £2.40 a bottle for some of the microbrewery beers. My local charges £2.60 a pint - and with microbrewed beer there is a much, much higher failure rate for dodgy bottles, making it in fact more expensive than the pub.

    Drinking from the supermarket can really work well if you have friends that you can drink and share good times with but supermarkets sell a different experience to the pub. They sell a night of boozing in front of the TV, or over a barbie with your mates, or perhaps even a couple sat in front of the computer as we do now.

    My favourite line is the landlords who buy crates of macrolager for their own consumption, they'd never drink in the pub themselves and then say that the smokers who abandon his pub are miserable idiots for doing the same! They won't countenance an end to the smoking ban when the evidence is in front of their eyes.

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  29. @RealAleMark

    Frankly you do not get it, let me try and give you an insight.

    Firstly imagine you were out eating at a pub or restaurant and the state decided any unhealthy choices and then decrees that the course you has to be eaten outside. You will only be 10 minutes, you then can rejoin the table. Surely no inconvenience? Would you visit your pub just as much.

    Secondly I did go to the pub to smoke. I have been to the odd shisha bar as they are generally well heated and happy not drinking.

    Thirdly as much as I enjoy real ale I am just as happy with a glass of wine. The difference is that the wine you buy out of Tescos really is better than the expensive plonk in pubs. £10 is usually European wine lake from the pub and £10 buys a particularly agreeable Chablis, or Rioja from a supermarket.

    Fourthly I have many hobbies apart from drinking real ale down the pub. For example I am an accomplished poker player and love playing in tournaments on the internet. This year I have made £500 alone and £900 last year.

    So I can have a great 5 hours, glass of superior wine, make a profit and smoke to my hearts content.

    Why should I stand out in -3 deg temperatures in the pouring rain?

    I can have a better time doing something else.

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  30. I would make the following points, Mike:

    1. Never assume that other people's thoughts and motivations are the same as yours - they're not.

    2. A smoker doesn't see the ability to smoke as the sole reason for going to a pub, but it's an essential component of the experience. If he's forced to stand out in the street to have a fag, he will look much less favourably on the whole thing.

    3. A large majority of pub customers are not real ale drinkers. Without their custom, few pubs would be viable. It's probably true that the smoking ban has deterred fewer real ale drinkers than the general run of customers because it is a unique product only available in pubs.

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  31. Curmudgeon: A large majority of pub customers are not real ale drinkers. Without their custom, few pubs would be viable. It's probably true that the smoking ban has deterred fewer real ale drinkers than the general run of customers because it is a unique product only available in pubs.

    Yes, I keep forgetting this. But if even the real ale loyalists like those of us on here are looking at many pubs with less than total enthusiasm, what next? As I say, you're looking at them being eating houses, cannibalising themselves in order to survive. It's horrid to watch.

    And yes, the lager bit does hold weight - but I'm not sure I could accept totally that people go the supermarket crate route because they can get drunk cheaply - there's millions of ways to get very inebriated much cheaper than drinking cans of Pierre's pee.

    Have lots of formerly pubgoing people taken their friends with them to their houses instead? That's also an interesting point.

    Also, and as has been said here, older people really don't want to pay the prices in a pub for a glass of wine because they just can't afford.

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  32. to daveatherton

    Dave,

    thanks for your explanation as to why I just don't get it. Could I just respectfully point out that the name is Mike....

    I too have many hobbies other than going to the pub (if anyone cares birdwatching, hillwalking, old diesel locos etc etc), and I am pleased to hear of your poker playing success, whilst not entirely sure of its relevance here(?). The debate however is specifically about that proportion of leisure time spent going (or not going) to the pub. You sound like someone who whilst enjoying a good pub,can to some extent take it or leave it-my comments were directed more towards those who seem (from their comments) to be passionate pub goers (like myself) but whose passion can seemingly be quickly lost by the need to go outside to indulge their smoking habit-as I said previously, it just doesn't quite ring true.

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  33. "But if even the real ale loyalists like those of us on here are looking at many pubs with less than total enthusiasm, what next?"

    I probably don't go to pubs much less than I did before July 2007, but on the other hand much of that is just habit, and I am often conscious of something lacking in the atmosphere. Much of the crack and conviviality has disappeared, especially at quieter times.

    "Have lots of formerly pubgoing people taken their friends with them to their houses instead?"

    There's plenty of anecdotal evidence of that.

    "You sound like someone who whilst enjoying a good pub,can to some extent take it or leave it-my comments were directed more towards those who seem (from their comments) to be passionate pub goers (like myself) but whose passion can seemingly be quickly lost by the need to go outside to indulge their smoking habit-as I said previously, it just doesn't quite ring true. "

    I don't think the average Carling or Extra Smooth drinker is passionate about pubs in an abstract sense in the same way as you or me, even if he might spend (or have spent) a lot of money and time in there.

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  34. Real ale Mike -

    Were I a smoker I might feel hard done to by the smoking ban-I might even have expressed my displeasure by staying away from the pub for a while, but would I have ultimately felt so strongly that I would choose to forgo the social pleasure of my regular visits to the pub, to drink good ale and hopefully enjoy good company, in favour of a dull night in with a few cheap supermarket-sourced bottles? The short answer is no.

    But you're not a smoker so you have not had to make the choice. I am and I have. My options since 2006 (in Scotland) are to smoke outside in the cold and pay a premium so that the nonsmokers can continue to enjoy the inside of the pub all evening, or to set up alternate evenings with a bunch of other smoking-ex-regulars.

    While outside that pub I can experience sneering and fake-coughs and sometimes actual verbal abuse, then pop back inside for a higher-priced drink (outside drinking is not allowed here) and listen to 'Poo, you smokers stink' when I get back inside. What a fun evening that sounds, eh?

    You won. You have the pub all to yourself. You ejected me and if I dare to turn up, I can expect abuse inside and outside. I don't care at all about the price differential between supermarkets and pubs, in fact if the supermarket booze cost more I'd still drink with friends in private, indoors, because it is not, and never was, about the price.

    I used to love going to the pub in the days when I felt welcome. Now it's like paying to be hit with a brick. I used to be at least once-a-week in there, for a good long evening. I've visited pubs roughly once a year since the ban, only if I have to meet someone there and I don't stay long. You won, you see? You have successfully banned the smokers from the pubs.

    Now you want to put up the price of supermarket booze because you think that we'll come flocking back to be abused if it costs the same as staying home and having a laugh.

    You'll win this fight too, you know. Supermarket prices will rise. The antidrinkers want that and you're going to help them all the way. Then pub prices will rise. Then the supermarket price will rise to match, and soon nobody below the rank of MP will be able to afford a pint and then only because it's subsidised.

    I know, I know, it'll never happen. It's just one restriction you're asking for. Just one little restriction. It won't escalate at all and there is no such thing as an 'anti-booze agenda'. Don Shenker is no more real than Santa and Alcohol Concern is nothing at all like ASH.

    None of these measures ever escalate, which is why that non-smoking carriage on the train could never become a ban on smoking on the empty, windswept platform.

    You keep thinking that way. Meanwhile, I'm accumulating homebrew equipment.

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  35. "whose passion can seemingly be quickly lost by the need to go outside to indulge their smoking habit-as I said previously, it just doesn't quite ring true"

    I grew up in pubs my father owned (from 1984 to 1992) and my very best memories were in those times. I left home and was still a passionate afficionado of pub life. It was the very best leisure time one could aspire to IMO.

    The people who brought this ban in would be as ignorant of such an idea as you are of the fact that for some people, a cigarette/pipe/cigar is an intrinsic part of their pub experience.

    I have no urge to visit pubs anymore. The relaxation aspect is gone, the whole point of them is lost.

    If you've ever watched people sit in a Wetherspoons over a coffee and a cheap meal and wondered what on earth they could take from such a dull experience - and why they couldn't have done the same in Starbucks instead of a pub - it may give you a small inkling of how people's pub enjoyment is a very diverse thing.

    Just because you personally don't understand it doesn't mean to say that for someone else it could be a critical factor.

    That's why an obvious solution would be to have different types of pub for differing requirements. It's a no-brainer, really.

    Sadly, the Health Act 2006 has crminalised any pub which wishes to cater for those who enjoy tobacco with their beer.

    21% of the adult population smoke some form of tobacco - that's around 12 million people - yet they are allowed 0% of venues.

    Hardly equitable, is it?

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  36. I have just posted this on my blog and is a review 1 year after the ban.

    “The smoking ban has had a serious and continuing effect on trade with the very important custom of smokers much diminished, and little positive news in terms of increased non-smoker or family business.”

    So said the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) in September 2008 about 12 months after the smoking ban. I am immensely indebted to Chris Snowdon and his blog for the info.

    http://velvetgloveironfist.blogspot.com/ other key findings included:

    The proportion of smoking customers dropped from 54% to 38%;

    66% reported that their smoking customers were staying for shorter periods;

    75% reported that smokers were visiting less frequently;

    47% of businesses had laid off staff, although 5% had recruited additional staff;

    Income from drinks fell by 9.8%;
    Income from gaming machines fell by 13.5%.

    The paper from the BII is here:

    http://kleinehoreca.info/downloads/Smoking_&_Tobacco_Control_Full_Report.pdf


    http://daveatherton.wordpress.com/2011/07/02/the-smoking-ban-has-had-a-serious-and-continuing-effect-on-trade-with-the-very-important-custom-of-smokers-much-diminished-and-little-positive-news-in-terms-of-increased-non-smoker-or-family-busi/

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  37. It won't be easy to bring common sense to bear and get some sensible modification of the smoking ban which will allow drinkers to enjoy a smoke in a pub without interfering with the rights of those who either dislike smoke or who (a majority I fancy) affect to dislike it.
    Could CAMRA instigate a campaign which would be seen as being objective because it has no links to the tobacco industry? Well, it could, but would its many backwoodsmen allow it to happen? It bangs on about community pubs (whatever they are) but I doubt whether it would associate itself with a measure which would help save them because it would be controversial. The technology exists to ensure that designated smoking areas in pubs could be established without the smoke bothering others; but would the anti-smoking fascist brigade even concede the possibility of this?
    I her that the London Branches of CAMRA are holding a Regional Conference (September, I think), at which "Saving the Pub" will be a keynote theme. It will be interesting to see what comes of this.

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  38. Just been to a pub in a neighbouring village.

    Ordered a pint of Theakston's Best Bitter - costing me £3.20 (a full 60p more than my local) and was astonished to see it coming out blonde.

    I could have taken it back and asked for another beer but I doubt the smug arseholes behind the bar would have given a toss anyway - none of their ale is particularly good from what I can deduct from previous experiences, and their food is dreadful, but it was a beautiful lovely summer's day and they have a nice beer garden. So I drain-poured it and left in disgust.

    Not all village pubs are like this but there are an element within them that think that they can behave how they like and still have people coming in.

    I'm a non-smoker, but increasingly I sympathise with the plight of smokers, for I feel that it's not just smokers that are being targeted - it's all pubgoers, and anyone that is different in any way to the prevailing consensus.

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  39. "and was astonished to see it coming out blonde."

    Do you mean cloudy? If so, surely that's the easiest of faults to get rectified at the bar. Any pub where I'd actually bothered to order a beer, I would insist that a cloudy pint was changed or refunded.

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  40. No, not cloudy at all - I'm tallking blonde here. Clear and blonde, with none of the characteristics of Theakston's beer - or indeed any real taste.

    ReplyDelete
  41. "I hear that the London Branches of CAMRA are holding a Regional Conference (September, I think), at which "Saving the Pub" will be a keynote theme. It will be interesting to see what comes of this. "

    Nothing, I confidently predict. Unless it acknowledges the prime cause of pub closures over the past four years, any "campaign to save pubs" is doomed to failure.

    ReplyDelete

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