From the IEA’s Closing Time: Who’s killing the British Pub? by Chris Snowdon.
The smoking ban
A very different form of regulation has had a more profound effect. Although
only 20 per cent of British adults smoke regularly, smokers have always
been disproportionately more likely both to drink and to visit pubs. A survey
of publicans reported that 54 per cent of pub customers smoked in 2006
and it is highly telling that the same survey showed that this number had
fallen to 38 per cent in 2008 following the introduction of smoking bans in
Scotland (March 2006) and the rest of the UK (April and July 2007) (FLVA,
2008: 2). The survey also reported that there was a net reduction of 74
per cent in smokers’ visits to pubs whereas there was only a six per cent
net increase in nonsmokers’ visits to pubs (ibid.: 2008: 3). These trends
are supported by a mass of other data showing that the smoking ban has
been highly damaging for many, but not all, pubs.
The hospitality industry felt the impact of the smoking ban almost
immediately. In England and Wales, pub chains initially attributed their
woes to the wet summer of 2007, but as beer sales continued to fall as
winter set in, pub companies that had initially been quite optimistic about
the smokefree era openly blamed the ban (Sharp, 2008; Bowers, 2008).
PubCo share prices fell dramatically after the summer of 2007 and have
The year-on-year decline in beer sales reached nine per cent by the end
of 2007 and Goldman Sachs estimated in 2008 that the smoking ban had
reduced profits in a typical tenanted pub by ten per cent (Morning Advertiser,
2008). Market analysts at AC Neilson reported that pubs sold 175 million
fewer pints of beer in 2007-08 as a direct result of the smoking ban (The
Observer, 2008). PricewaterhouseCoopers correctly predicted that 6,000
pubs would close by 2012 largely as a result of the ban (Walton, 2008).
A year after the ban was introduced in England, 77 per cent of licensees
said that trade had suffered as a result (Harrington, 2008) and even five
years later, in 2012, 68 per cent wanted the ban to be relaxed (Berry,
2012). The decline in pub numbers was mirrored by mass closures in the
bingo industry which began in Scotland in 2006 before hitting the rest of
the UK in 2007. More than a third of the UK’s bingo halls have closed
since 2005 (Attwood, 2007; Warren, 2014).
As Figure 8 shows, the UK’s smoking bans correlate more closely with
the collapse in pub numbers than any other factor, including the recession
and the duty escalator. Corroborating evidence comes from Ireland which
enacted its ban in 2004, in the midst of an economic boom, and yet saw
an almost identical collapse in pub numbers. Ireland, Scotland, England
and Wales all saw pub numbers decline by eleven per cent within the first
four years of their respective smoking bans, despite different implementation
dates (CR Consulting, 2010; BBPA, 2014: 68).
Commenting on it, Chris Snowdon said:
“British pubs may be suffering from long-term cultural shifts, but government policies have hugely exacerbated this trend. Taxation and regulation have been the leading causes of the decimation of the UK pub industry since 2006. The level of alcohol duty in the UK is hugely regressive, hitting the poorest the hardest. Taxes must be lowered, and one-size-fits-all policies like the current smoking ban must be reconsidered if we are to temper the rate of decline of the British pub.”
It’s all sensible stuff, of course. What amazes me how antismoking zealots always deny that there has been any adverse effects at all from the smoking ban.
But perhaps I shouldn’t be surprised. The Tobacco Control lie machine is, after all, in the business of telling lies. And this is another one of their lies. Lies which make up a vast edifice of lies.
That’s how it works. The lies are carefully arranged to be mutually supporting. One lie can be backed up with another. And lies can be made to order at short notice (we’ve been having a whole fireworks set of new lies fired off in response to the appearance of e-cigarettes)
Anyway, the Daily Mail is covering the story:
The report said that although the last forty years have been characterised by a drastic decline in the pub industry, the rate of closures has accelerated over the past decade thanks to the smoking ban and tax hikes.