Saturday, 6 August 2011

The ultimate question

Following on from the two surveys of smokers and non-smokers, I thought I would ask the overarching question “What is your view on smoking in pubs and bars?” The results are shown in the graphic.

The previous general blog readers’ survey showed that people came to this blog for its specific pubs and beer content, as opposed to more general political and libertarian reasons, by a margin of about two to one. Nevertheless, four-fifths of all respondents supported some relaxation of the smoking ban, with only just short of 50% failing to see the need for any legislation whatsoever. On the other hand, five people seemed keen to wipe out what remains of the pub trade.

I always regret not adding a option along the lines of “smokers should be locked in the showers and gassed with their own vile fumes” to really smoke people out.

I know I’ve done this, or similar, before, but maybe I should do it every year to see how opinion has moved.


  1. But Mudgie, it's not really 'your view' if you have to pick a view from 4 responses, surely your just putting words in others mouths?

  2. But that is inherent in any such survey or poll - all it really means is "which statement comes closest to your own view"? If you want to elaborate on your own personal stance, feel free...

  3. I liked your smoker and non-smoker surveys which gave the option at the end of what people really thought of the current ban/laws etc..

  4. Dr. Brian Oblivion6 August 2011 at 19:18

    Incrementalism is fun for the anti-smoking brigade. Every step forward reveals another opportunity to extend the ban.

    Raising the tax here and there is another cynical drip drip drip that wears away the dignity of the bullied.

    At some point one would like to put an end to the chase and cut to the endgame. For Ash it is the thrill of pursuing its game and there is no end until the victim is broken and surrenders everything. That's not a dignified end for an MP never mind the powerless smoker.

    Is it dirty pool to invert the current paradigm and ask where the smoker will be allowed the dignity to be left in peace where Ash and its intolerant enablers will not intrude and disgrace themselves and the nation? Where will the British smoker find asylum from Ash's psychological warfare campaign?

    And is there a level at which addition taxation is no longer just or is it acceptable to extract every last penny in the name of public health? Surely not.

    Unaware of what the boundaries are how are smokers even given enough information to make an informed choice? As I view it in this light, isn't incrementalism not simply unfair but actually exploitative?

    I wonder if Forest has ever explored this line of reasoning or if its even advisable.

    How Britain is made richer by letting its pubs and its unique publicans die one by one is a mystery that nobody bothers to address. The silence is deafening.

    Perhaps there should be a Pub Curmudgeon zone funded out of the budgets of false charities to see how pubs fare in an enclave of liberty vs the current non-smoker utopia. But that could never happen, could it? It's impolite to even bring it up!

  5. The problem was, that before the smoking ban, the "market" was failing to sort it out. Your final option is nonesensical.

  6. Ah, but the market WAS sorting it out. Without the benefit of a time machine I cannot, of course, prove this, but it is my recollection that, before July 2007, a very substantial minority of pubs did provide non-smoking areas, so if that was important to you it wasn't difficult to find one. I live in a part of the gritty industrial North-West, so I doubt very much whether your area was much different. Of course, in general non-smoking areas that weren't in dining areas weren't very much used, suggesting the true demand was actually fairly limited.

    I take it you are familiar with the concept of "revealed preference", i.e. you judge people's true values and opinions by what they do, not what they say they will do.

  7. @ Jeff Pickthall

    Why the scare quotes? And sort what out exactly? There was a problem??

    Look at it this way: prior to July 2007, there was no law to say you had to smoke in a pub, or even

    provide for smokers. There was nothing to stop anyone opening a non-smoking pub then. (Indeed,

    Wetherspoons tried this in 2005, and lost shitloads of custom. A useful experiment one would think

    to show how damaging the ban could be, but, hey...)

    Now, of course, it is illegal to open a smoking pub. Even if you put huge fuck off posters on the


    Put it this way: Murdoch has been much in the news lately regarding his media market share etc,

    reported, without any sense of irony, by the BBC, who have a near monopoly on news media (other

    than print of course). I have a free choice whether or not to pay money to the Dirty Digging

    Aussie; I have no choice with the BBC, it is criminal offence not to give them money. In other

    words, we have a fixed market, distorted by top-down government legislation, and not based upon

    customer demands. Were the BBC to be privatised and the licence fee to become a subscription fee

    instead, I guarantee they would lose 10-20% of their income, and their fee would rise; likewise I

    predict that Sky subscriptions would decrease (it costs £20(ish) per month for Sky + the £12 you

    pay for BBC, even if you never watch the BBC).

    Lost you?

    Markets are not just about what people can sell, but the freedom of choice for people to buy. If

    not enough people are there to buy, then your product is simply not viable; any state interference is undesirable. I, for one, would love to spend my money in a place that sold good beer, had a good atmosphere, and plenty of ashtrays on the table, but there is no one out there to meet my demands, so... fuck it... it's an 8 pack of Pedigree and a solo smokey drinky for me, and all the local "pubs" could all burn down tomorrow for all I care.

  8. ps, fucking formatting... that's what you get for writing it in notepad...

    pps Jeff, I went to school with you, you old git. :P

  9. The problem was, that before the smoking ban, the "market" was failing to sort it out.

    Where I lived in Devon, I knew of at least one local pub that had gone completely non-smoking several years before smoking was banned by law. To be precise, it was The Hare and Hounds in East Devon. It was (and still is) a big pub-restaurant. It continued to be successful, even if I no longer went to it. And most of the other large pubs in the area that I knew had ever-expanding non-smoking areas which were mostly empty. So the market was responding. It just wasn't responding fast enough for a minority of antismoking zealots.

    There may well have been a 'problem' before the smoking ban for antismokers, but there's now a much larger equal and opposite 'problem' for Britain's 13 million smokers, who now have nowhere where they can enjoy a pint and a cigarette in warmth and shelter.

    P.S. I missed this poll, and if I hadn't I would have voted to let the market sort it out.

  10. ppps hey Frank!

    "There may well have been a 'problem' before the smoking ban for antismokers, but there's now a much larger equal and opposite 'problem' for Britain's 13 million smokers, who now have nowhere where they can enjoy a pint and a cigarette in warmth and shelter."

    I know there are people who felt excluded before the ban, and I sympathise. But, hey, the state never banned anti-smokers from, er, anywhere. Ever.

    When they legislate for how we live, based on our characteristic behaviours... I mean, shit, this is just apartheid. (Cue outrage from rednev and nails, etc... LOOK, I never once mentioned Hitler. Oh fuck. Now I just did!)

  11. The Laurel Pub chain, which owned pubs in the Manchester area, was no smoking before the ban.

  12. How little you know me, ftumch.

    The point I intended to make (rather than your fantasy of what I might say) is that around here, only JDW provided a non-smoking area before the ban. The many non-smoking drinkers weren't catered for.

    There is also another matter: mixed groups of smokers and non-smokers tended to opt for the smoking areas (where the choice existed) to accommodate the smokers. It was either that or split up the group. It didn't necessarily mean that those non-smokers were completely happy in a smoking area.

    Why on earth would anyone want to mention Hitler?

  13. 'The many non-smoking drinkers weren't catered for.'
    Where the hell are they now then?
    Not one single pub in my area can now be described as lively or even busy. Most are empty in the bad weather, many are closing.

  14. Anon: I don't mind being disagreed with - cut and thrust of debate, and all that - but there's something cowardly about arguing anonymously.

    Your comment isn't really relevant to the point I was making, and you clearly think the smoking ban is the primary reason for pub closures. Here are some more: the recession, job insecurity, wage freezes, redundancies, predatory pub companies, 20% VAT and escalating beer tax. Or do you live in a blessed area unaffected by the economic meltdown? Regrettably, most of us do not share such a privileged lifestyle.

  15. RedNev, I think that you will find that before the smoking ban, a disproportionately large percentage of regular pub-goers were smokers, and it it this section of society who, as a result of the ban, are no longer using pubs in the way they used to - if at all. This is the main reason pubs have been closing at such a rate since 2007. You can wriggle all you like, but the facts (and the smoking punters) speak for themselves.

  16. "The many non-smoking drinkers weren't catered for."

    Only those who strongly objected to drinking in an area where smoking was permitted, which is a much smaller subset. Most non-smokers are not antismokers.

    And I'd be amazed if there weren't a number of food-oriented pubs in the Southport area that provided extensive non-smoking areas before July 2007.

  17. if those smokers spent less on fags they could afford to go to the pub more often ;)


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