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Inner city pubs stubbed out by smoking ban

Thu 23rd June, 2011

Traditional inner city pubs have suffered the most since the introduction of smoking bans in Scotland, England and Wales, a new report has found.

Researchers also found that the areas with the greatest levels of closure have been in Labour‐held constituencies with an average of almost eleven pubs per Labour constituency, compared to 9.9 pubs per Liberal Democrat constituency and 7.6 pubs per Conservative constituency.

Of the ten hardest hit constituencies seven are Labour held, two Liberal Democrat, and just one (Cities of London and Westminster) Conservative.

All bar one of these constituencies (Argyll and Bute) are in the inner cities with one each in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Leeds, Edinburgh and Nottingham.

In Wales every Westminster constituency lost at least one pub. In Scotland only one Westminster constituency has escaped without a single pub closure.

The research was conducted by CR Consulting for the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign. Oliver Griffiths, director of CR Consulting, said: 

"The data show large numbers of traditional drink-led urban pubs shutting down. These are in areas with traditionally quite high levels of smoking so it would appear that regulars who used to enjoy a pint and a cigarette with friends have decided to stay at home instead."

John Madden, Executive Officer of the Guild of Master Victuallers, said, “The smoking ban has put a huge strain on the traditional urban pub. Many regular customers decided to smoke and drink at home and very few non-smokers came in to replace them. 

“The result has been the closure of thousands of pubs. Licensees have lost their livelihoods, bar staff have lost their jobs, and many communities have lost their social centre.”

Paul Waterson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said, “Everyone can see pubs are shutting, especially the more traditional community pubs. Many of these have been around for decades. They have been social centres for the communities that they serve and then suddenly they are gone.”

“Our pubs have offered a safe and regulated environment in which to enjoy a drink and a sociable chat. The smoking ban caused many smokers to stay away and those that still come have to stand outside. The ban may have cleared the air but its destroyed the atmosphere. 

“Other European countries have had more sensible regulation allowing smoking rooms or exempting small bars and have avoided this devastation. The Executive should look at this again before it’s too late.”

Simon Clark, director of the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign which counts TV chef and publican Antony Worrall Thompson and artist David Hockney among its supporters, said, “Labour was the principal architect of the smoking ban. It is ironic therefore that pubs in Labour-held constituencies have suffered the most. 

“The smoking ban is an issue that MPs must address because local communities cannot afford to go on losing pubs at the present rate. The Coalition Government must review the smoking ban and consider options that bring us into line with most other countries in Europe where smoking is permitted in separate smoking rooms or designated smoking bars.”

Source: Save Our Pubs & Clubs (23 June 2011)

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