Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Smokers’ survey – the results

I recently carried out a survey of smokers and their experience of pubs and pubgoing since July 2007. This achieved its 100 maximum responses within four days, which is quite impressive.

Now, before anyone pipes up (as it were) let me make it clear that this survey makes no claims to be representative or scientific, and readers of this blog who responded to it will by definition be somewhat self-selecting.

But it does underline the point that, four years on, there remain very strong feelings of anger, rejection and alienation about the smoking ban. It’s not going away as an issue, however much the antismokers and denialists might wish it to.

There’s no suggestion from what I can see that any antismokers have spammed the survey with misleading responses.

Is it worth me doing a broadly similar non-smokers’ survey, do you think?

The results are given below. Obviously the number of responses equate to percentages.

1. How much do you smoke?

Occasional/social smoker: 2
1-10 cigarettes per day: 14
11-20 cigarettes per day: 43
21-30 cigarettes per day: 20
31-40 cigarettes per day: 7
41-60 cigarettes per day: 7
Over 60 cigarettes per day: 1
I am a cigar smoker: 4
I am a pipe smoker: 2

2. How often did you visit pubs prior to 1 July 2007?

Daily or most days: 30
2 or 3 times a week: 43
Weekly: 15
Fortnightly: 3
Monthly: 2
Occasionally: 6
Never: 1

3. How has the frequency of your pub visits changed since 1 July 2007?

More: 0
About the same: 6
A bit less: 11
A lot less: 25
Only when I have a really good reason to go: 36
I never go to pubs now: 22

4. How do you feel about having to go outside for a smoke?

I don’t mind: 5
I put up with it: 14
I really don’t like it, but sometimes accept it: 19
I hate it: 43
I just won’t do it: 19

5. Have you noticed any pubs closing in your area since 1 July 2007?

No: 3
Yes, a few: 45
Yes, a lot: 52

6. Have you noticed pubs in your area providing improved smoking facilities?

Not at all: 26
Yes, a few have: 69
Yes, quite a lot have: 5

7. Have improved smoking facilities increased your frequency of pub visits from a low point?

Yes: 13
No: 87

8. How has the amount of your smoking changed since 1 July 2007?

More: 18
About the same: 72
A bit less: 9
A lot less: 1

9. Any other comments?

Reproduced verbatim as received:

  • I'm a single parent, so don't get out much. But, I used to take every chance I got prior to the ban, even if it was only once every couple of months. Since the ban, every night out has been bloody awful, particularly going to the pub to watch football (absolutely NO atmosphere). Worse still, idle sunday afternoons in the pub with a paper, a pint and the option of lunch have gone too. I'd rather stay at home.

  • While I visit pubs about as often as I did pre-ban, I tend not to stay as long.

  • As I now live abroad, I've had to tailor my responses to the fact that I am now a visitor to the UK, and extrapolate my pub visits from that. However, I'm pretty sure that if I were living in UK still, I would now be a very occasional visitor to the pub, whereas I was previously a pretty regular regular! There is no pleasure in going to the pub if I have to be subjected to the ignominy of standing outside if I want a smoke. I'm not a heavy smoker, but I do enjoy a fag with my pint. If they won't allow me that pleasure, then they won't get my money over the bar.

  • Simply make a % of pubs smoker-friendly pubs - 25% maybe. That will soon show up the busybodies - we're still waiting for them to pack the pubs out

  • i would prefer to grow my own tobacco and brew my own beer than pay to be in an establishment where I am not welcome for who and what I am

  • We will only go to the pub these days when the weather is good. Although I've never enjoyed smoking outdoors, at least when it's warm it feels 'normal' to be outside as opposed to 'denormal'! Thanks for this opportunity to have a moan!

  • Only go to the pub for the occasional meal. Ant to meet an old mate about once every 6 months. Beer prices are way too high. Easier to buy some Becks and stay indoors - even though i tend to smoke outside.

  • Since the ban, my social life is almost non existent, I have bought no new clothes and do not go to concerts any more. I feel very angry that because I use a legal product ASH et al have been allowed to succeed in ruining my life.

  • Smokers should boycott pubs - it's the only thing we can do that stands any chance of forcing a change!

  • We tend to have smokey/drinky gatherings with friends at my home or theirs. Most of them don't smoke but say it's pleasant not to have us smokers having to disappear outside to have a cigarette. I have been confronted three times by anti-smokers while smoking outside. I'm a woman and sometimes I'm stood outside by myself and it doesn't sit good with me at all. Especially when some burly thug thinks he has the right to tell me what I should or shouldn't do in his view. My hubby is a non-smoker and has seen first-hand what I've had to put up with. He wants a compromise in the pubs too. I only of one person who doesn't want this compromise.

  • The economic effects of the smoking ban can be seen in the tens of thousands of decisions made by many smokers every day. Fancy a pint or two after work? Fine, if the weather's good. If it's bad, will the smoking shelter protect me adequately enough? During bad weather, pubs will lose tens of thousands of potential sales as smokers decide it's not worth it whereas before the ban, the weather would not have been a consideration. Separate smoking rooms now please!

  • Don't go to the pub unless it's extremely good weather. Go abroad for ALL holidays

  • summer ok to sit in yard, winter, (this winter) - forget it. Will leave UK for good come this winter. Shame really Was a great place.

  • Many pubs I still enter have ONLY smoking customers. Often the entire pub is outside smoking. Utterly stupid.

  • I only go to the pub a little less often than before, but I stay less time. And I'm a lot more inclined to have drinking buddies round my place, where we can smoke!

  • I avoid pubs now - feel nagged

  • Comment is within the criteria of the questionnaire. Pub visits are a weekly thing ...every weekend...for the best part spring, entire duration of summer and partway through autumn. I refuse to go in winter and stand in the cold for a ciggy. All of our friends follow this pattern and I suspect it is the same for many others across the country who are of a certain age (mid-thirties up). This has proven over time to be a pattern of survival for pubs who have smoking good weather trade somehow evening out the bad. Thing is though...prolonged bad weather through the warmer months could be enough to close a pub down through lack of smokers trade. It's unacceptable that pub owners and customers alike should be dictated to as to how they earn a living/spend their free time by a bigoted few.

  • I find myself going outside to enjoy the company of friends and as a result smoke far more than I used to when all my friends, smokers and non-smokers, were inside.

  • Its not so much the ban I hate as much as the lies that accompanied it.

  • I'm enraged that this social manipulation has occurred as a result of flat lies disseminated by the anti-smoking industry.

  • Pubs are boring and sterile now.

  • I was invited to three pub closing down parties in the first 12 months of the smoking ban, I think I was invited to a similar number in twenty years before the smoking ban. I no longer know any publicans personally so I don't expect to get invited again.

  • Stop the world, I want to get off. And keep up the good work on the site!

  • Not so many pub closures in Swindon BUT the landlords in the pubco owned ones change a lot more frequently than before 7/7

  • Background: Work in central london. Just as the ban introduced pretty much all my regular after work pubs installed heaters/awnings. Pub going is heavily linked to weather. Being central london hot weather means the streets outside the "shoebox" pubs are packed, and this hasn't changed much. On a tangent moving on to a club, post pub is even less common, the hassle of negotiating getting out and "stamped" so you can get back in to stand in a grubby square metre next to the entrance is even less apealling than standing outside a pub on a wet day.

  • Used to spend £800 a month in pubs. clubs, casinos and lap dancing clubs prior to the smoking ban and was out 4 or 5 times a week. Now I go to the pub maybe once every two months and I haven't been to any of the other places at all since the Ban.

  • I have adjusted but not accepted the ban.

  • I hate the smoking ban.

  • I no longer go into cafe's or restaurants either since the smoking ban.

  • I will now only frequent pubs that either have a smoking area with seating, or a beer garden!


  1. Amongst the more vocal people here it seems like many pubs are slowly dying. Many are not offering what many consumers want (do people really want sterile, characterless eating houses rather than proper pubs if they had the choice?) and are arrogant and pigheaded enough to think that they can continue to survive indefinitely. I forecast that a lot of the eating house pubs will die off over the next ten years, mainly because the alcohol healthists will help to kill them off. You can't have a pub environment where people are discouraged from drinking.

  2. Yeah, a non-smokers survey too would be good, just so you have a balance of opinion & experience to judge from. As a now non-smoker, I found the non-smoking sections of pubs (and the few at the time completely non-smoking pubs) a real boon when I was trying to quit - and now I love relaxing in a pub for hours without having to carefully pick and choose which pub might be the least smoky so I didn't end up covered in smoke right down to my underwear from even a brief visit. I'll also use the pub when I want quiet time to read, or to work on a laptop - so I'm using it for a broader range of activities, whereas when the (real ale) pubs I liked were smoky environments, I would have wanted to limit my time there rather than extend it.
    I can understand the annoyance of those who have smoked indoors in a pub for many years, now having to change their habits. But I think health-wise things would inevitably have gone in this direction anyway as even with other previously accepted pastimes that then were restricted or banned for health reasons (e.g. taking opium), they didn't tend to affect other people in the surrounding area as much as standing beside a smoker does. Don't wish to get in a fight with anyone, just commenting on my own personal experience!

  3. @tania - nobody's denying that most non-smokers, given the choice, would prefer to drink in a non-smoky environment. I mean, I would.

    But the point is that giving people the choice is far better than forcing one solution on everyone.

    And there's no evidence of any significant influx of new non-smoking customers into pubs post-ban.

  4. tania_nexust, we are not annoyed, we are furious because we no longer have social lives. We don't accept this ban and it works only because the landlord gets the fine. You are being ridiculous complaining about having to make a choice of pub. We all make choices all the time. Some pubs play loud music, some allow children. They can't all suit everyone. Some day soon there will be pubs which allow smoking but, don't worry, it won't affect you, you will still find plenty which don't. After all, the ban is very popular according to opinion polls. Take it from a smoker, your smoking aquaintances , if you have any, will show no mercy. They won't forget your attitude and you will have absolutely no difficulty finding a quiet time to read. Plenty of pubs tried to go no smoking before the ban, but they never made money. That's not the fault of smokers. We weren't demanding smoking in every pub.

  5. Regardless of what tania feels, the facts speak for themselves. Unless a compromise is reached there will be even fewer pubs to have a quiet read in.

  6. The only pubs I've seen closing are bad pubs. Prior to the smoking restriction, our group used to have to leave pubs regularly as they stunk. Now we don't If we find a good pub, we can stay there. Would craft beer have taken off in this country if the places stunk of smoke so no-one could taste the beer? Doubt it.

  7. There was never a need for a ban in the first place. They kept this hidden from the public.

  8. Would craft beer have taken off in this country if the places stunk of smoke so no-one could taste the beer? Doubt it.

    Funnily enough, more craft-oriented real ales had prospered in the years before the ban, both here and in Denmark. IMV it's the lack of trade and therefore increased conservatism that is killing choice in real ale.

    And craft beer, much as I enjoy it, is very much a minority product. You can't buy many craft beers in bottle in this country.

  9. Another vote for a non-smokers' survey. I'm broadly in favour of letting market forces sort it out, but I'm torn - I do appreciate not coming home smelling of other people's smoke!

  10. I've done the non-smokers' survey here. It's in the sidebar but I haven't done an actual post about it yet.

  11. 'Would craft beer have taken off in this country if the places stunk of smoke so no-one could taste the beer?'

    Some one wake me up when pubs have been repaired please



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