There’s a quite astonishing piece in The Publican from Hamish Champ in which he alleges that belligerent smokers are helping to close pubs by taking their business away. Well, yes, pubs are closing at a rapid rate of knots because of reduced custom from smokers, but the blame for that must be laid squarely at the door of the government.
Smokers are not some uniform, co-ordinated body, and to say they are deliberately shunning pubs as an act of spite is absurd. Plenty of smokers do still go to pubs and put up with having to go outside when they want a fag, but others quite reasonably have decided that isn’t for them and visit much less often, if at all. Everybody does what suits them as individuals, and the number of people who make consumer choices with the conscious intention of “making a point” is minuscule.
If I had to go outside the pub to drink a pint of beer, then I can assure you I would scarcely ever drink except at home. If loads of pubs then shut down I wouldn’t consider it to be my fault, and would regard it as totally unreasonable to be blamed for pub closures.
Champ also says that licensees have gone to great expense to provide smoking facilities within the law. Obviously, given the constraints of many sites, this is often simply impossible, but as a general statement it is very wide of the mark. Most “smoking facilities” are extremely perfunctory and often consist of no more than an awning in a dingy yard next to the bogs. The number of pubs that have made the effort to provide a sizeable covered area with reasonably comfortable chairs and tables is very small. As soon as the weather is clement enough to sit outside, they do reap the benefit, though.