Friday, January 16, 2009

Smoke effects obscured

There can be little doubt that when the dust settles from the current recession, many thousands of pubs across the country will have closed their doors for good. But, when the history comes to be written, there is a distinct risk that the contribution of the smoking ban to this decline will be forgotten. Before the storm of recession broke, over 2,000 pubs nationwide had already shut because of the ban. Several thousand more would have closed even if the economy had remained in rude health. As a rough estimate, I would say that the smoking ban knocked between 10 and 15% off the wet trade of the entire pub sector. In many wet-led pubs, the decline was 33% or more. Such a decline would inevitably have led to widespread closures.

And don’t forget that many of the pubs that will be victims of the recession over the next couple of years would have stood a much better chance of survival without the smoking ban, something the antismokers will never admit.