Friday, 18 October 2019

Up in smoke

The impact of the 2007 smoking ban on the pub trade has been a perennial source of debate. Only the most blinkered denialist would claim that it didn’t have any negative effect at all, but it is hard to untangle this from the influence of the late 2000s recession and the general long-term downward trend.

However, Christopher Snowdon reports on some new research published in Health Policy which clearly shows that the catastrophic decline in pub numbers well predated the recession, and that previous recessions had made no difference to the general downward trend.

The whole thing is worth reading, but particularly interesting are the figures on household expenditure in pubs. The point is often made that smokers only made up 21% of the adult population, but in fact pre-ban they spent far more in pubs than non-smokers. They were pubs’ best customers.

The data show that before the smoking ban, smokers spent nearly twice as much money in pubs as nonsmokers - and nearly 50 per cent more on alcohol overall.

After the ban, average weekly expenditure in pubs by smoking households fell by 45 per cent, from £10.06 to £5.68.

Was this made up for by nonsmokers flocking to smoke-free pubs, as anti-smoking campaigners - and the useful idiots at CAMRA - promised? Not a bit of it. Expenditure by nonsmoking households also fell, from £5.70 to £4.42 a week.

Spending on alcohol from the off-trade remained pretty similar for both groups.

It is worth noting that, even though they are treated as third-class citizens, smokers still spend nearly 30% more in pubs than non-smokers. I guess that many non-smokers just don’t like the idea of pubs, full stop. While antismokers may feel that pubs offer a more congenial environment post-ban, there is no evidence that it has led to them visiting any more often or spending any more money there.


  1. yeh but the twice a year I go in pubs they are so much nicer now the smokers have done one.

  2. Has anyone asked why smokers allegedly spend proportionally more in pubs than non-smokers? Given the extortionate price of a packet of fags these days, one wonders where they get the money.

    It would be interesting to see how these figures were derived. Possibly a case of manipulating the statistics to support a certain view point?

    1. I doubt the figures or stats are manipulated in that way, but its the correlation to causation that we have to question, undoubtedly the smoking ban caused some pubs to close, whether it caused all the pubs in that graph to close is another matter and weve no idea what the viability of any of those pubs were at the time, there are simply too many other contributory factors involved and the problem is we arent measuring these things at the time so we can only infer later, but I would certainly argue even had the smoking ban not happened, that graph would not look a whole lot different in todays world

    2. One commentator on Snowdon's original post wrote, "Smokers, generally, were a "work hard/play hard" group who ate and drank heartily. Non-smokers tended to be the more health-conscious."

      I'm not sure that's true, but I suppose if you're adopting a cavalier attitude to your health by smoking, you're unlikely to go easy on the drink either.

      With the price of a pack of 20 cigarettes now in excess of 10 quid, my question of where does the money come from remains relevant. Conversely, think of how many extra pints a smoker could buy, if he/she dropped that 20 a day habit!

    3. Well, not all smokers have a 20 a day habit, not all fags are over a tenner, and smoking tends to be a leisure activity, that is, the consumption rate tends to be higher outside of working hours.

      Interesting to note that the price of a packet of twenty is about 2~2-and-a-bit times the price of a pint, which has remained pretty damned constant over time, so the number of extra pints possible is two. The question is when you drink them.

      So, your local builder who pops in for couple of pints from about 5 in the evening, is unlikely to start popping in for four pints. Or an extra ten over the weekend.

      That cash saving gets spent elsewhere, or doesn't get spent until much later. Either way, the extra tenner doesn't go over the bar.

    4. Not all non-smokers are prissy, health-obsessed people, but all prissy, health-obsessed people are non-smokers. And, by definition, they're not going to spend much time or money drinking in pubs.

  3. There were those pointing out decades ago that the antismoking mentality is a delusional one: It's made up of a cluster of dysfunctions. Antismokers are neurotic, bigoted, dictatorial, megalomaniacal, and pathological liars. The history of antismoking is that, give antismokers red-carpet access to the legislature, their claims become progressively more absurd and hysterical, and their demands progressively more draconian and inhumane.

    The public was conned into the belief that antismoking laws (indoors) were enacted solely to protect nonsmokers from the "dangers" of ambient tobacco smoke. People were warning that once the antismokers conned their way into indoor bans, they would start on the outdoors. "Don't be ridiculous", the antismokers would squeal, "that's just fear-mongering by the 'evil' tobacco industry". Well, guess what? Now they're banning smoking in large outdoor areas, e.g., parks, beaches, entire central business districts. The antismoking nut cases claimed that there could be no "slippery slope" to other products because tobacco was a "unique" product, that the "slippery slope" argument was simply fear-mongering by the "evil" tobacco industry. For example, see

    The antismoking argument (i.e., lies) about pubs was that nonsmokers were staying away from pubs in droves because of ambient tobacco smoke. Once smoking was banned, droves of nonsmokers would fill pubs to the rafters. Well, the "prophesized" droves didn't eventuate - just more antismoking crap.

    So, who turned out to be the big, fat liars on multiple fronts?

    The following are just from the last few months.

  4. Just in the last few months - in Australia, North Sydney City Council, Melbourne City Council, and Hobart City Council, have enacted widespread outdoor smoking bans; two involve the entire CBD, the other, a major mall with a view to a CBD-wide ban.

    On the heels of North Sydney introducing a CBD-wide smoking ban a few months ago, Melbourne City Council voted in a smoking ban for the Bourke Street Mall. It was voted in two weeks ago and come into effect 4th October. All a rushed job.

    Smoking to be banned on one of Australia's busiest streets

    Smoking will be banned in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall in a bid for more fresh air.
    City of Melbourne councillors unanimously voted for the shopping strip and a segment of Bourke Street between Swanston Street and Russell Place to go smoke-free from October 4.
    While the city hasn't gone for a widespread smoking ban, councillor Rohan Leppert said this was another step in the right direction.
    "The best way to get here is to facilitate what is an obvious trend in society that smoking is on the outer, smoking is not cool, and wherever the city reinforces that can only hasten that societal trend," he said during Tuesday's meeting.

    And that's not all that this moron council has in mind:
    ‘This is my vision’: Push for total smoke ban in Melbourne city

    A Melbourne councillor is pushing for the entire CBD to become smoke-free.
    With Bourke Street Mall set to go smoke-free tomorrow, ‘People City’ portfolio chairperson Beverley Pinder says she will be encouraging council to advocate for the move to be extended across the inner-city.
    Councillor Pinder told Ross and John special smoking zones could be an option in some high-stress areas, like courts.
    She also says smoking booths, similar to those in Japan, could be a consideration.
    Ms Pinder says council surveys show huge support for the ban, with 40 per cent of smokers saying it would encourage them to quit.
    “This is my vision; I envisage a smoke-free CBD,” she said.
    Ross and John backed the push, and encouraged her to include e-cigarettes.

  5. Even long-time antismoker, Simon Chapman, has spoken out against the North Sydney smoking ban and applicable to the Melbourne/Hobart bans.

    Respected tobacco control activist says North Sydney’s new smoking ban goes way too far
    One of the last people you’d expect has blasted a Sydney council’s new smoking ban, saying it’s ill-informed and sets a worrying new precedent.

    Where are these gullible councillors getting the idea of passive smoke "danger" outdoors? This article highlights Kerry Doyle, CEO NSW Heart Foundation, making these fraudulent, inflammatory claims. And it won't be just the Heart Foundation. There'll also be the Lung Associations and Cancer Councils. They're quite prepared to promote mental/social dysfunction in the quest for their smokefree "utopia". It's also pointed out in the article that Doyle has been "working" with other councils, including Melbourne City Council, to introduce widespread outdoor bans which has now occurred with MCC.

  6. Full-time anti-cigarette cop will hand out on the spot $338 fines in a massive new no-smoking zone in the heart of an Australian city - starting TODAY

    Hobart City Council have hired a full-time anti-smoking police officer to roam the city with the power to fine smokers starting on Tuesday.
    The position has been created in conjunction with plans for a smoking ban to take place throughout Hobart CBD by early next year.
    ... The anti-smoking officer will earn a $73,000 salary and can issue on-the-spot fines of $338 to errant smokers
    Hobart City Council Deputy Lord Mayor Helen Burnet told The Mercury the new officer and incoming bans would mark a positive and healthy change for the city.
    'It’s a clear message that Hobart is looking to the health, wellbeing and amenity of people who use our streets,' Miss Burnet said.
    'We need to de-normalise smoking. There’s also a significant amount of butt litter which ends up in our waterways.'
    The no-smoking zones will also act as a strong deterrent to stop quitters from relapsing by limiting the locations where they can legally smoke.

    plans for a smoking ban to take place throughout Hobart CBD by early next year.

    Who's running government?
    Just in the last few months North Sydney and Melbourne Councils have introduced baseless, draconian outdoor smoking bans. Hobart Council is set to follow early next year. Also in the last few months, these 3 councils have declared a climate "emergency". These widespread outdoor smoking bans are pushed by "Public Health" operatives, e.g., Heart Foundation, Lung Association - why do we even need organizations representing dismembered body organs?

    Heart Foundation CEO NSW, Kerry Doyle, told the organisation is now making a submission to City of Melbourne council to increase the footprint of its CBD smoking ban.
    It is also making a submission to Hobart City Council, which subsequently committed to expanding its CBD smoking ban by April 2020.
    “The Heart Foundation congratulates North Sydney Council on its decision to ban smoking in its CBD,” said Ms Doyle.

    “It is a significant step forward in protecting the heart health of people who live and work in the area, and we encourage other councils around the country to follow North Sydney Council’s lead on this important issue

  7. As noted, these 3 councils have all recently declared a "climate emergency", too. Melbourne City Council goes even further, completely sucking up to Extinction Rebellion:

    Melbourne Declares Climate Emergency, Vows To Listen To The Rightfully Pissed-Off Youth

    The City of Melbourne has passed a motion declaring a climate emergency after councillors unanimously agreed climate change and mass species extinction “pose serious risks to the people of Melbourne and Australia.”
    The Future Melbourne Committee last night moved in favour of a motion raised by Councillor Cathy Oke, who urged the city to assess how it plans to mitigate and react to climate change.
    The motion also calls for the Council to sit down with young advocates from groups like Extinction Rebellion, instead of ignoring their genuine concerns for the planet they’ll inherit.

  8. And this from just last week from antismoking central, Califraudia.

    Moving into the "red zone" of stupidity, Califraudia, again, leads the asinine way.

    They've been trying for years and have finally succeeded. And the inflammatory lies used to push the Bill come thick and fast.

    Californians will be banned from smoking at state parks and beaches under new law


    Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday did what two of his predecessors refused to do: He prohibited smoking and vaping in most areas of California state parks and beaches.
    ... The measure applies to 300 miles of state beaches and areas of 280 state parks, and provides for fines for littering of smoking materials.

  9. An indication of how nasty is the antismoking mentality. This from the North Sydney mayor on introducing a city-wide smoking ban - "taking back the streets".

    Smokers are set to take their last puff in Sydney’s second largest business district, with the North Sydney Council voting last night to bring in a smoking ban taking in the entire CBD.
    North Sydney Mayor Jilly Gibson confirmed to 9News that the vote was passed unanimously.
    “I am absolutely thrilled that it went through, I’ve been working on this for a long time,” Cr Gibson said.
    “There was actually a mood amongst the councillors, which I agree with, that we might try to extend it the whole municipality.”
    Speaking before the vote, Mayor Gibson said it was: “time for non-smokers to claim back the streets”.
    “We used to accept all sorts of things from smokers, smokers had all the rights,” she said.
    “Now I believe it’s the time of the non-smoker

  10. NOTE: Nonsmokers are simply people who do not smoke. There are plenty of nonsmokers that have no problem with ambient tobacco smoke - even indoors. Antismoking is another mentality altogether. ANTI-smoking is an extreme position. It is the intent to eradicate the world of smoking.

    1. I'm always careful to draw a distinction between non-smokers and antismokers. Before the ban, although some people whinge about how they always came home from the pub with their clothes smelling of smoke, in practice the vast majority of non-smokers really weren't too bothered about it, even when there were non-smoking alternatives available.

    2. Good on you. It's a critical distinction.

      It should be pointed out that antismoking Public Health is ALSO anti-alcohol. Just like 100 years ago in America, the greatest prize is the eradication of recreational alcohol use. The screws are now being tightened on alcohol following the "tobacco template" (propaganda), e.g., "no safe level", "plain packaging" (medical pornography). IIRC Someone from CAMRA?? reciting antismoking propaganda - why are they picking on alcohol? Alcohol isn't like "evil", "disgusting", "lethal" tobacco. Tobacco is a unique product. Poor, clueless twit. If the smoking ban has contributed to numerous closures of pubs, Public Health would be ecstatic - two birds... one stone. It would be viewed as a marvellous bonus. Public Health couldn't give two hoots about the detrimental consequences of pub closures, e.g., economic, social. All that matters is getting to their [deranged] "ideal" world.

  11. San Miguel premium lager in one of our village's two pubs is £3.70. In the other it was £3.90 but only £3 during happy hour on a Friday. the new management of that pub have scrapped happy hour and I am expecting the landlord to copy his other pub and jack up the price to £4.10. This is what is killing pubs. Stupid prices driven by greedy rents, ridiculous business rates, extortion by sports broadcasters. Excessive duty on beer does not help. I have also paid HMRC lots of duty on beer I brewed and sold. Fair enough. I had my eyes open when I started brewing. A pub 4 miles away has a happy hour Tue to Friday from 17.00-19.00 with premium beer at £2.90. So it will be £2.90 vs £4.10 or £3.70

  12. How about this insanity:

    Also noteworthy is that Beverly Hills already had pretty widespread [baseless] antismoking laws, including no smoking outdoors while standing still. If you're smoking outdoors in Beverly Hills, you must be moving, not stationary. Compare this with another American locale (Queens, NY) seeking laws for THE EXACT OPPOSITE - smoking permitted outdoors only if you're stationary, not walking.
    Councilman's bill would ban smoking while walking on city sidewalks

    A city pol wants to snuff out smoking while walking.
    A bill being introduced in the City Council Wednesday by Councilman Peter Koo would ban puffing a cigarette while walking along a city sidewalk.
    Smokers standing in one spot on the sidewalk would still be allowed to light up

  13. How about this.

    A Federal Government minister let slip what antismoking is all about, and has always been about. And he let slip while investigating the illicit tobacco market, a market that has been created by government greed/stupidity (i.e., robbing smokers blind) that has artificially inflated a $5-6 pack of cigarettes to over $40AUS (close to 20 quid for a pack of 20).

    The man [Craig Kelly] leading federal parliament’s investigation into illicit tobacco is a rabid anti-smoker.
    “I can’t stand cigarettes,” says Liberal MP Craig Kelly, chairman of the joint committee on law enforcement. “When it comes to fanatical nonsmokers, they could give me a badge.”
    “I have grave concerns that we’re trying to attack this issue through taxation,” Kelly says. “Like many things we do in government, the unintended consequences can be worse than the problems we’re trying to overcome.”
    The Gillard government introduced plain packaging in 2012 and dramatically escalated tobacco excise, implementing yearly rises of 12.5 per cent each September 1 for the next four years. The Turnbull government extended the annual excise hikes in this year’s budget until 2020.
    Despite his concerns, Kelly acknowledges price should still play a role.
    “You have to have some price pressure,” he says. “You have to have the strongest possible law enforcement. You’ve got to make lepers of those that smoke… make their lives horrible.”

  14. I note that the graph does not define what a pub is,the number of on licences has increased during the period covered by the graph which suggests that pubs have been replaced by other types of on licenced premises such as restaurants and café bars. The rate of decline in the number of pubs as evidenced by the graph increased from the onset of the smoking bans to a rate experienced during periods of recession one of which started shortly after the bans were introduced. The smoking ban increased the rate of decline and probably led to a greater number of closures when it was coupled with the effects of a recession however the rise in the number of other on licences shows that wider social trends have a significant and greater impact on the rate of decline of pubs than the smoking ban and,indeed economic recessions. The square footage occupied by pubs has also remained static which suggests that pubs are being replaced by fewer larger pubs.

    1. The Stafford Mudgie24 October 2019 at 01:39

      "pubs are being replaced by fewer larger pubs" seems unlikely given the many micropub type establishments opening.

    2. Chaging social trends indeed. Over the last decade the small town in which I live -- population about 6,500 -- has lost four of its ten traditional pubs. But two wine bars and a micro-pub have opened. And the working men's club continues to thrive.

  15. For what it's worth, in Lerwick, Shetland, one pub has closed since the smoking ban and three cafe bars have opened, all selling craft beer and all pleasant places to have a drink, if you can find a seat as they're usually rammed.


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