There was encouraging news today that a campaign group called Save Our Pubs and Clubs has been launched to press for an amendment to the smoking ban. This combines politicians – including Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP – with licensed trade representatives and other interested parties.
Since the ban, over 3,500 pubs have closed in England and Wales, and many more will inevitably give up the unequal struggle and go the same way over the next few years. Despite the claims (with hindsight, utterly ludicrous) of its supporters that the ban would bring lots of new customers into pubs, in reality the effect of being forced to treat half their customers like lepers was wholly predictable. Trade, especially in the smaller, more traditional community pubs and social clubs, has fallen off a cliff.
But this campaign isn’t about forcing anyone to go into area where smoking is permitted, merely to allow that as a choice for pubs and clubs in part of their premises if they want to take it up.
With over half of the House of Commons after the next general election likely to be newly-elected members, this is an unparalleled opportunity for those who wish to help the licensed trade and support genuine choice to make their voice heard and seek to influence the outcome.
Now let’s see whether CAMRA will be prepared to add its weight to this campaign. Because CAMRA is of course in favour of saving pubs and clubs. Isn’t it?