Wednesday 5 July 2017

Murdered by the smoking ban

This is a comment left on my previous post by Liam, who is on Twitter as @LiamtheBrewer. I reproduce it without further comment.

I can prove that 3 pubs shut because of the ban as the people who stopped going told me so and I know the landlords personally. All wet led, keg only pubs with substantial week-day after-work trade. Site workers after 4pm and factory after 6. They would do substantial trade up until 8-9pm Mon-Thur then quieten off.

The ban had an almost instant effect in cutting that trade because those punters were going for a very specific reason, to relax after hard (often very physical) work, before going home for dinner and preparing for another day of slog. When the smokers stopped going, their mates also stopped going and when that happened the few who were left started to thin out as there was no craic in an empty pub in the early evening. After a while some of those people also started to stop coming at the week-end.

Those, heavily working class, back-street, food-free boozers were already only just providing a living to their landlords/landladies. The tie, crazy business rates, increasing rent and constant harassment from the clipboard brigade at the council did not finish them off. These things hit their pockets, put pressure on already thin margins and increased their already ridiculous working hours as they were forced to shed staff

But the smoking ban, unlike all the other problems, actually removed punters from the bar. The domino effect began and sooner or later the savings run out and you have to walk.

It is this type of pub that has been murdered by the smoking ban. Not the sort of place that the ban's advocates would deign to visit. Not the sort of area where people talk about hop terroir or food-pairings. But the last community back-bone of already depressed areas where me and my mates would meet for a few beers, a chat and yes maybe a ciggie. Pubs that don't get in the guides, don't get covered by the self-appointed double-barreled beer gurus on the internet. Pubs that provided a meagre living to one or two people who've put their whole life into keeping them open.

The group who've been hardest hit among my acquaintances are working single men, often middle-aged (not a demographic that the crafterati think about very much) for whom the local was often the only social outlet they had. This has led to more loneliness and isolation in this group and, by their nature, they aren't a group that get covered very much.

So as you sit in your smoke-free gastropub commenting on how delicate Pierre manages to get those organic scallops you can rest easy knowing that you've taken away one of the few nice things in the lives of people you've never met.


  1. The Blocked Dwarf5 July 2017 at 12:37

    But the smoking ban, unlike all the other problems, actually removed punters from the bar.
    Damn right, Liam! That's the point all the capnophobic bigots with their 'it was the price of beer' and 'Jupiter was misaligned with Mars' arguments always miss.

  2. Very good and well argued points, I believe the the effects of the smoking ban on pubs is often over stated, however it has certainly had an impact on this specific demographic.

  3. Bear in mind that antismoking is a prohibition crusade (Godber Blueprint) where one of the major measures is to ban smoking in essentially all of the places people typically smoke. Remember with the indoor smoking bans the antismokers would screech, "What's the problem. You just have to step outside." Well, now they're after the outdoors as well. There are now smoking bans for outdoor dining areas, for entire university campuses - including outdoors, large stretches of beach, entire parks.

    Laguna Beach, Orange County, California, has recently banned smoking everywhere in public, including streets and alleys. It's the antismokers "wet dream" (Godber Blueprint). The only places (for the time being) where one can smoke is in their car/home.

    Indoor bans were only a step to outdoor bans. Secondary smoke "danger" was a concoction to achieve indoor bans. The crap artists are now claiming that outdoor bans are necessary to avoid secondary smoke "danger" for nonsmokers. There isn't even any manufactured "science" for that claim. They're simply running on the momentum of the bandwagon that they've created.

    So, when speaking of smoking bans point people to the example of Laguna Beach because that's what prohibitionists around the world have in mind. That's the goal.

  4. It's very simple. I'm not getting all dressed up for the evening just to stand outside in all weathers.
    The pubs were forced to stop catering for me, so of course I stopped going.


  5. The Blocked Dwarf5 July 2017 at 17:57

    "The pubs were forced "
    Uhm no, not so much 'forced' as 'didn't stand up for their customers'. They chose to cave in- quite willingly in the case of Big Brew and PubCos. If the entire brewing industry and pub trade bodies had turned round and said 'No' when it was first seriously floated the Smoking Verbot would have died in it's satanic crib & been buried in an unmarked grave at some political crossroads late one dark stormy night.
    Mind you those smokers who still frequent pubs are almost as bad as the quislings of the pub trade. Bad or perhaps 'sad'. So desperate are they to give their money to people who told them to fuck off in 07 that they will suffer every indignity to do so. Wear a Hi Vis neon jacket bearing the logo "Unclean"? Sure. Hell if they were told they had to put on a pink tutu and play a verse of Fere Jacques on the recorder when going out for a smoke they'd comply.

    1. They wouldn't have caved in quite so easily if ASH hadn't softened them up first.

      "The hospitality trade faces a rising threat of legal action from employees whose health is damaged by secondhand smoke, after a new tie-up between health campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the UK’s largest personal injury and trade union law firm Thompsons was announced today.

      ASH has sent a registered letter to all the UK’s leading hospitality trade employers, warning them that the “date of guilty knowledge” under the Health and Safety at Work Act is now past, and that employers should therefore know of the risks of exposing their staff to secondhand smoke. Employers who continue to permit smoking in the workplace are therefore likely to be held liable by the courts for any health damage caused. ASH and Thompsons intend to use the letters in any future court cases as evidence that employers have been fully informed of the issue."


  6. TBD, I agree. The crafty thing about the ban was, of course, threatening to fine the landlord instead of the customers.

  7. You say that these three pubs were providing a bare living to their landlords. So, whilst the smoking ban might have been the last straw, it is pretty obvious that they would have gone under in a years or twos time anyway from some other cause. Increased prices, fewer people doinf hard physical labour, their regulars dying off and not being replaced by young drinkers.

    The smoking ban - of which I actually disapprove might be a factor in pub closures but it is not the primary one.

    1. It's impossible to quantify precisely the effect of the smoking ban compared with other factors, but, as a commenter has said previously, if something's already struggling it's a bad idea to kick away any of the planks supporting it.

      It's also rather different as it was a one-off legislative change rather than something that happened gradually over a number of years. I'd estimate that the smoking ban has resulted in a reduction in the wet trade of pubs of 10-15% above the existing trend, obviously disproportionately in working-class, wet-led boozers.


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