As a counterpoint to the smokers’ survey, I ran a survey of non-smokers’ experiences of pubs and pubgoing since the smoking ban. This attracted 80 responses over 7 days, so fell a bit short of the maximum of 100.
As ever, I make no claim for the results to be scientific or representative – it’s merely done for interest and to stimulate discussion. It’s clear there is a wide range of views, especially in the comments section. There were certainly more comments per response than for the previous survey.
It’s perhaps significant that 57.5% of non-smokers (46/80) believed there should be some relaxation of the ban, either to allow separate smoking rooms (27) or to repeal it entirely (19).
The full results are below (I can’t be bothered to work out all the percentages):
1. Have you smoked in the past?
Yes, regularly: 20
Yes, occasionally/socially: 21
No, never smoked: 39
2. How often did you visit pubs prior to 1 July 2007?
Daily or most days: 12
2 or 3 times a week: 44
3. How has the frequency of your pub visits changed since 1 July 2007?
About the same: 41
A bit less: 9
A lot less: 16
4. Do you feel it is reasonable to expect smokers to go outside for a smoke?
Yes, I support the current law: 34
No, they should be allowed to have indoor smoking rooms: 27
No, there is no need for any legislation on this issue: 19
5. Have you noticed any pubs closing in your area since 1 July 2007?
Yes, a few: 39
Yes, a lot: 23
6. Have pubs you know that are still open lost trade since 1 July 2007?
Not that I have noticed: 31
Some are a bit quieter: 21
Some are much quieter: 28
7. Have you noticed pubs in your area providing improved smoking facilities?
Not at all: 13
Yes, a few have: 45
Yes, quite a lot have: 22
8. Have you noticed smokers that you know changing their pubgoing habits? (choose all that apply)
No, not really: 43
Yes, some still go as often but spend less time in the pub: 14
Yes, some go less often: 21
Yes, some have stopped going entirely: 21
9. Have pubs become more or less welcoming and sociable since the smoking ban?
More so: 31
About the same: 16
A bit less: 12
A lot less: 21
10. Any other comments?
Reproduced verbatim as received. I've numbered them so they're easier to respond to.
- I've certainly noticed they don't smell any more.
- Pubs had 30 years of falling smoking rates to do something. Instead they ignored the non-smoker and pandered to a shrinking minority. Now pubs have to cater for the very people they spent all those years ignoring. The real problem though isn't the ban but the cost.
- I lived in California when they introduced the first smoking ban and bars got busier. I have been back here a while now and things will settle out. We need to get over the thinking that smokers are the life blood of pubs. They are not , it is people who want to go drink and socialise that are the ones keeping bars open. If a thing like stopping smoking in a pub ( but still around it ) stops someone going then they were not that great a customer. You can see it practically the amount of time smokers spend not buying drink ( now outside smoking ) and they didnt buy theie cigarettes in the bar anyway. So the best customers for bars are people who want to socialise and not these magical super happy smokers you paint pictures of. Bars are businesses not a community service provided for some minority to dominate. One person smoking imposes their smell on everyone in an enclosed space. NB the next thing they will alow to get passed is by littering cig. stubs. Smokers were finally banned from CA state beaches , not because of the smoke, but because they gave an excuse from the amount of litter they caused. Think of other people .
- What was wrong with separate smoking/non smoking areas. when adequately ventilated it was fine.
- The solution can be found here http://f2cscotland.blogspot.com/2011/07/air-quality-standard-eliminates-need.html
- There are some people I see much less often in my local simply because they choose to stand outside. I think they're sad. They'll go an hour or two without a cigarette for a train or plane journey, so why not in the pub? They've had it their way all their adult lives up until four years ago, now it's my turn. Just accept it.
- I can't be bothered with the pubs anymore-they have lost their atmosphere, their charisma and their appeal. All my friends have stopped going bar one, and he only pops in for a pint every night to get out of the house for half an hour. As an exercise to cull smoking/smokers the ban has been an abysmal failure but as an exercise to cull the hospitality sector it has been a raging success!
- The smoking ban has ripped the guts out of the pub trade. Around here, loads have closed, and those that are left are empty and soulless. The only future for pubs seems to be as restaurants.
- As a non smoking ex-smoker (heart attack) I do now notice that smoke does make your clothes stink. It's being short of breath that keeps me off the fags
- Not been to a pub since the ban.
- I no longer go to the pub as my smoking friends don't go. What's the point of going to a pub and paying pub prices when there's no one to talk to? I stay at home and entertain people here or go to their houses now.
- Occasional smoker - once a year I have a cigar on National no smoking day
- The proper solution would be to allow pubs to choose to be smoking or non smoking and then their clientele can also choose.
- Many of my regular pubs feel empty - regulars who used to spend hours everyday at the bar no longer go, or if they do they only stick around for one pint. No more long games of chess or working together on crosswords.
- In general, pubs feel less sociable since the smoking ban, and smokers were often the real characters in pubs.
- Yes my clothes smell cleaner, but most of the pubs I loved have closed. Guess I'll have to console myself with yet another can of crappy supermarket beer!
- A few local pubs have gone, but not really because of this ban. The remaining pubs seem to stick all smokers outside on bench seating under parasols, regardless of weather. One pub has patio heaters. It wouldn't bother me if the law was loosened to allow smoking rooms, but it strikes me that groups would still be segregated on and off during a visit, though the smokers will still be able to stay inside in bad weather.
- Most people that have stopped going to the pub have done so due to price differences between on and off trade
- I used to smoke a pipe but gave up as decent quality tobacco became harder to obtain and specialist outlets closed. I think the main cause of pubs closing is the prices charged but the smoking ban definitely worsened the situation. Where pubs might be gaining trade seems to be in food but I suspect some of this is because restaurants are pricing themselves out of business. In my area (London E11) pubs closing tend to be in the more working class parts, which also have a lot of East European immigrants from countries that don't have much of a pub going tradition and who probably don't want to regularly pay over twice what a bottle of beer would cost from a local corner shop. In the more affluent parts I can't think of any pub closures but I do know of some restaurants that have gone under. Incidentally and off the subject, some corner shops seem to undercut Tesco on things like Polish beers, so why isn't CAMRA banging on about them?
- There are lots of reasons why pubs are less busy or closing: change in people's social habits, supermarket alcohol, PubCos etc.. The smoking ban might be one factor but don't try and use this survey as 'proof' that the smoking ban is bad for pubs! It's really time to move on from this old issue.
- I used to smoke, am a non smoker and in favour of the ban. So that's where I stand. I'm also - for want of a better way of putting it - a 20s professional from the educated middle class, so the question about my friends is moot (i.e. none of my close friends smoke at all You'll have to take my word for it that this is coincidence - I don't go around wishing to alienate smokers). I also feel the survey is likely to produce quite a 'post hoc ergo propter hoc' result - the latin phrase is a logical fallacy ('after it therefore because of it'). My pubgoing has decreased since the smoking ban - but then so, with relatively high inflation, has my disposable income. The latter has far more to do with my pubgoing habits than the former. Thanks for putting up the survey.
- I support the "smoking carriage" option, as long as the smoke doesn't drift out into the rest of the pub and you don't have to walk through it to get to the Gents. There's no reason why sufficient extractors can't be put in to allow non-smoking staff to get in to clear glasses etc (though clearing the ashtrays was always my least favourite part of the job!) Some pubs have done a good job with their smoking areas - the Duke of Cumberland Arms in Henley, West Sussex springs to mind (outdoor fireplace, comfy seats, and not so far from the entrance that it's a huge trek to get another pint). Worst part about the smoking ban is a 5 minute wait between games of bar billiards as my opponent now has to leave the table for a fag :)
- I was a dedicated smoker for fifteen odd years before I gave up. I'm glad I did and I don't want to go back but I will always stick up for smokers rights. I find it amusing that some non-smokers bang on about how selfish smokers are and yet they demand that every indoor space and place of entertainment conforms to their own wants. We're all adults and it should be about choice. No reasonable smoker wants to go back to every pub allowing smoking but as users of a legal (heavily taxed) product they should have somewhere they can go. Other countries have stood up this appalling little piece of legislation and won concessions, I would love it if it could happen here but I don't hold out much hope.
- "Smoking rooms only, where landlords and staff agree" is the reform that should have been tried. (It was in the 2005 Labour Manifesto, apparently.)
- Smokers outside can be a nuisance, blocking pavements and leaving litter and can sometimes be intimidating, depending on the venue it seems.
- Question 8 is flawed, I don't go to the pub with anyone who smokes.
- The next frontier is banning smoking outside of pubs and in pub gardens so its possible to enjoy sitting outside too. Resistance is futile.
- I fully support peoples choice to smoke but not where it has a clear and demonstrable effect on those around them. I think the law should be changed slightly to allow for an indoor smoking license for pubs that can achieve a specific level of air quality.
- Need to consider economic climate
- Some leading questions I thought, but overall a good survey. Nice counterpart to the smokers survey.
- Pub closer is about badly run pubs and increased competition from alternative leisure activities. The smoking ban doesn't change anything in the long run. As a 23 year old I can count the number of smokers I known on one hand.
- Any discussion of the issue is clouded by bad-tempered and intolerant comments on both sides in equal measure. A minority, no doubt, but their abuse ensures rationality goes out of the window. And I do wish people would debate rather than just post links to websites that they claim "proves" their point. My experience is you can find a website on the internet to "prove" virtually any point you like.
- I really don't like pubs anymore. They are usually so sterile. It's like having a beer in a Dr's waiting room. Then again smoking never bothered me. I like smoke in pubs and most restaurants I go to hadn't allowed smoking for 15 years or so anyway. Now we tend to go to other people's houses as everyone is more relaxed.
- The pub experience, I feel, is far more impoverished than it ever was pre-ban. I believe that repealing the ban is the only sensible option but this will not happen for a long time yet, by which time it will probably be too late to limit the damage, not only on the smoking ban but the entire idea of going out to drink here in the UK. Repeal the ban.
- Smokers who say pubs are closing because of the smoking ban are twats
- Most of the guys I know smoke outside and there was one bloke a smoker who switched to another pub cause it was nearer to him — he liked Greene King as well…
- It's been striking how many of my smoking friends have quit since the ban though I wouldn't conclude there is a direct cause/effect.Similarly, although I prefer non-smoking pubs the ban is not the reason behind my increase in pub-going. For me there are a whole range of factors that are influencing pub-going in the UK, the ban is clearly one but I think not necessarily the most significant, economic and societal change (which of course also impact on attitudes to smoking) are probably of greater consequence