From yesterday’s post about Haringey’s outdoor smoking ban:
“Now Labour’s municipal killjoys have been caught with a smoking gun, trying to ban adults enjoying their local pub garden. If implemented, these ill-founded proposals would lead to massive pub closures.”
To which Joe L responded:
Well, it’s good that they openly admitted an outdoor smoking ban “would infringe on people’s freedom and lead to pub closures,” but they conveniently ignored the effects of the indoor bans. Are we supposed to believe that the indoor bans had none of these negative effects?
Very good point.
In fact, I think we may deduce that Marcus Jones, the Minister for Local Government, almost certainly does think that the UK indoor smoking ban, which was voted into existence by Labour’s parliamentary killjoys, infringed on people’s freedom, and led to massive pub closures.
How massive? Pub Curmudgeon keeps a tally in the top left corner of his blog, which I reproduce here. To date, 16,955 pubs have closed since 1 July 2007. From memory, there were about 65,000 pubs in the UK in July 2007. So about 26% of them have closed over the past 10 years. Or maybe at least 26% of them have closed. Not long ago I read that 25% of the pubs in Ireland had closed after the smoking ban of 29 March 2004. So 25% looks like it’s about par for the course.
Actually, I’m surprised that more pubs haven’t closed. Back when I lived in Devon, before the ban I used to head for the pub nearly every day for a single pint and a few meditative cigarettes. After the ban I only ever went to sit outside in the garden, beside the river, on warm, sunny days. That meant that from October to March, I never went at all. And for the remaining 6 months of the year, I probably only went there on one day in every four, because the English climate in summer isn’t warm and sunny every single day. So I personally went to pubs at about 15% of the rate I had before the ban. Some smokers never went back at all.
But pretty much all the pubs re-invented themselves as pub-restaurants. They lost most of their former smoking clientele, and replaced them with families. The River even had its own French chef for a while. And in Herefordshire where I now live, it’s exactly the same. All the Herefordshire pubs whose gardens I frequent are now pub-restaurants. Only a few of them retain a small residual clientele of smokers. Most of their custom comes from people who stop by for lunch, and leave immediately afterwards, quite possibly never to return.
But the residual population of smokers are undoubtedly valuable to the pubs. I noticed last week that one of my local pub-restaurants had set out a new set of ashtrays on the outdoor tables. They did the same last year, but they were all promptly stolen. This year they don’t seem to have been stolen yet. And if the residual population of smokers makes up 20% of UK pub customers, pub garden smoking bans would indeed result in another massive wave of pub closures.
If I’m surprised that more pubs haven’t closed, I’m equally surprised that the Conservatives haven’t used pub smoking bans as a very big stick with which to beat both the killjoys in the Labour party, and the killjoys in the Lib Dem party. Because 90% of Labour MPs, and 95% of Lib Dem MPs, voted for the indoor smoking ban. By contrast only about 30% of Conservative MPs did. I can imagine any number of jibes along the lines of “Vote Labour if you want to kill off the rest of the pubs and clubs in your constituency” or “Vote Labour if you want to destroy what’s left of British culture”.
Because, as far as I can see, and said so yesterday, that’s exactly what the Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn want to do. They want to completely destroy the entire culture, and replace it with something else.
But Conservatives seem to be unable to argue against “health measures” of any kind. Public Health trumps everything, even if the health measures are killing people in droves.