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Report: Decade of the smoking ban has decimated England's pubs

Mon 26th June, 2017

The smoking ban decimated England’s pubs and hurt local communities, according to a report published today.

New figures obtained by the smokers’ group Forest show there are 11,383 fewer pubs in England compared to 2006, a decline of 20.7 per cent since the smoking ban was introduced on 1st July 2007.

London alone has 2,034 fewer pubs than in 2006, North West England has lost 1,788, Yorkshire is down by 1,589 and the South East has a net loss of 1,013.

But the biggest decline in pub numbers has been in the Midlands where there are 2,560 fewer pubs than before the smoking ban, a drop of 23.7 per cent.

While the fall in the number of pubs is part of a long-term trend and is not solely down to the smoking ban, the report found there was a clear acceleration in pub closures after the ban was enforced, with pubs in poorer urban areas suffering most.

According to the report, ‘Road to Ruin? The impact of the smoking ban on pubs and personal choice’, many communities have lost important meeting places and social hubs. At a time when the dangers of social isolation and loneliness have been increasingly recognised, the smoking ban has affected local communities and many individuals who now smoke and drink at home.

Report author, Rob Lyons, said:

“The smoking ban has been a kick in the teeth for the traditional British boozer, especially in our urban inner cities. Ten years on from the introduction of this damaging policy the government should order a full review of the impact of the legislation and consider alternatives to the current comprehensive ban.”

Simon Clark, director of Forest, said:

“There’s very little evidence that the health of the nation has benefitted significantly from the smoking ban. Instead thousands of pubs have closed and choice has been sacrificed on the altar of tobacco control.

“Allowing separate well-ventilated smoking rooms or relaxing the unnecessarily strict regulations on outdoor smoking areas would reignite freedom of choice and give publicans greater control over their business.

“Proposals to extend the smoking ban to outdoor areas including beer gardens will be fiercely resisted. Smoking is a legitimate activity and pubs must be allowed to accommodate adults who choose to smoke.”

To download the report click here.

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