Is the smoking ban to blame for the high rate of pub closures?

Labour leadership candidate David Miliband has been posing as the champion of the Great British pub, saying he can save it by confronting large breweries over the beer tie. Under the beer tie, a landlord might pay £130-£140 for 88 pints of beer, while a freeholder might pay £60-£80. Cheap supermarket drinks have also been blamed for the recent spate of pub closures, as well as the recession of course.

However, figures from the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) suggest that these factors may be relatively unimportant. The smoking ban is probably the main reason for the recent decimation of pubs and may be primarily responsible for 3 in 4 closures.

Taking the pre-ban years, 1980 to 2006, the average percentage loss of pubs per year was 0.65%. From 2007, the year of the ban, onwards, the average has been 2.8%. In 2007, there were 56,791 pubs in the UK, so one would have expected, based on the long-term trend, 369 pubs to close. The actual figure was 1,409. So, an ‘excess’ of 1,040 pubs closed, suggesting that perhaps three-quarters of the closures may have been caused by the ban. The ‘excess’ closures have continued at a similarly high rate in subsequent years. (Studies of the pub industry by Nielsen PLC and PriceWaterhouseCoopers provide additional support for the hypothesis that the smoking ban is a key driving force behind pub closures.)

There are alternative explanations – the rate of closures would be expected to increase during an economic slowdown, for example. Yet the closure rate quadrupled in 2007 before the onset of the recession. Moreover, the closure rate in 2008 and 2009, at around 3% per year, has been far higher than in previous recessions. For example, in the deep recession of 1980-82 the average was 0.86%, while in 1990-92 it was 1.5%.

The beer-tie issue is long-standing so does not explain the acceleration of the closure rate. Indeed, the reduced turnover caused by the smoking ban has inevitably focused attention on pubs’ costs – rent and business rates, as well as the beer.

Finally, it is a myth that supermarkets all of a sudden started selling cheap alcohol after the smoking ban was introduced. The issue of much lower supermarket prices compared with pub prices predates the ban, so does not convincingly explain the acceleration in closures.

While in-depth research would be required to ascertain accurately the relative impact of various factors, the statistical evidence certainly appears to support the view that the smoking ban is playing a pivotal role in the rapid decline of Britain’s pubs. If this is the case, the policy implications are clear: to reduce the rate of closures, pubs and clubs should at the very least be allowed to provide separate ventilated smoking rooms.

” If this is the case, the policy implications are clear: to reduce the rate of closures, pubs and clubs should at the very least be allowed to provide separate ventilated smoking rooms.”Not if you are a prohibitionist/Puritan/Authoritarian who wants to kill two birds with one stone, it isn’t.

Short answer “Yes of course.”Long answer “So what? Pubs are smelly unhealthy places anyway. People should be doing something healthy and righteous instead.”

Everyone knows the Smoking Ban is killing our Pubs and Clubs but why worry. The coalition have promised to Reform Labours Nanny State and to protect Businesses, so we can look forward to the Pubs and Clubs being allowed to Choose to be smoking or non smoking,what a wonderful concept. Fairness in Britain. Its a win-win situation for the coalition,not only will they honour their promise to the public and put Fairness back into Britain,they will also save our Hospitality Industry and Thousands of jobs.
Lets All hope that the coalition does not let the Country down.

An excellent article. Through the last 50 years of immense social change, pubs have proved robust in their ability to adapt. The sudden rampant closure rate began with the smoking ban and nothing else. Of course other elements can be factored in but there is no doubt the ban, in its intemperate universality, is the main cause. Whether one is a smoker or not, a modification of the legislation must come about, if only to prove we are a civilised and tolerant nation.

My 90 year old dad tells me about the pubs in Cardiff where he grew up. They had smoking rooms with great big extractor fans.

Some new research on this topic contains interesting data: particular, it’s noticeable that the rise in pub closures happened first in Ireland, then in Scotland and then in England and Wales. In other words, the pattern appears to correlate well with the timing of the bans. While correlation does not prove causation, I have yet to see any evidence that falsifies the hypothesis that the bans have significantly increased the number of closures.

An excellent article and the hypothesis behind this is spot on.I understand predictions are that pub numbers will continue to fall, with another 1,700 to close in England before the fourth anniversary of the ban in July 2011.The smoking ban is clearly causing three quarters of pub closures. The only way to stop this trend is to reform the smoking ban.

Nobody that I used to socialise with goes to a pub any more.
Only a total fool will pay £3 ish for a pint and then leave it on the bar to go outside to have a cigarette.
Even non-smokers are staying home now as the friends that smoke are missing in the lovely new smokefree pubs, and so is the atmosphere.
I probably was acquainted with about 50 regulars at my old local and now there are just one or two in the pub most evenings and perhaps on a sunny evening a couple standing outside.
50 people spending an average of say £30 a week (some much more) adds up to a huge loss to a local pub and will almost always result in closure.

I am into smoking but not football. Trying to explain to a non smoker things to do with the smoking ban is like trying to explain something to me about a football team or player I know nothing about.

This pretty well destroys the Myth of second hand smoke: Lungs from pack-a-day smokers safe for transplant, study finds. By JoNel Aleccia, Staff Writer, NBC News. Using lung transplants from heavy smokers may sound like a cruel joke, but a new study finds that organs taken from people who puffed a pack a day for more than 20 years are likely safe. What’s more, the analysis of lung transplant data from the U.S. between 2005 and 2011 confirms what transplant experts say they already know: For some patients on a crowded organ waiting list, lungs from smokers are better than none. “I think people are grateful just to have a shot at getting lungs,” said Dr. Sharven Taghavi, a cardiovascular surgical resident at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, who led the new study........................... Ive done the math here and this is how it works out with second ahnd smoke and people inhaling it! The 16 cities study conducted by the U.S. DEPT OF ENERGY and later by Oakridge National laboratories discovered: Cigarette smoke, bartenders annual exposure to smoke rises, at most, to the equivalent of 6 cigarettes/year. 146,000 CIGARETTES SMOKED IN 20 YEARS AT 1 PACK A DAY. A bartender would have to work in second hand smoke for 2433 years to get an equivalent dose. Then the average non-smoker in a ventilated restaurant for an hour would have to go back and forth each day for 119,000 years to get an equivalent 20 years of smoking a pack a day! Pretty well impossible ehh! Study: Second-Hand Smoke And Lung Cancer Not Clearly Linked December 13, 2013 11:09 AM ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta attribute approximately 3,400 lung cancer deaths every year to second-hand smoke. A new study suggests that CDC researchers may be mistaken, however. Researchers at Stanford University discovered during a study of over 75,000 women who smoke that there was no reasonable connection

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