Finally Recognised: Smoking Ban Main Cause of Pub Closures

This isn’t news to most people, we knew before July 2007 that the ban would have a negative effect on trade. How did we know this? Because we, paying, smoking customers, said we’d stop going places we weren’t welcome. We didn’t need a degree in economics to be aware of the fact that if paying customers stop turning up and spending money, the profits of the establishment will dwindle.

Oddly, a lot of other people seemed to think less paying customers would have no effect on profits or trade. Naturally, Stanton Glantz and his band of merry men knocked up a report or two claiming to prove that smoking bans had a positive effect on trade, but it’s pretty much a given these days that if Glantz says something, the opposite is true (bear that in mind for future reports). Never trust anyone who resorts to science by press release, because you can be sure the actual facts will be the opposite – otherwise they wouldn’t need to rely on press releases in the first place.

We were told that the recession was responsible for pub closures, bingo hall closures and basically all closures within the hospitality trade. I’ve never had trouble agreeing that the recession had some effect on it, however I was also always aware that pub closures had a very obvious pattern after any smoking ban around the world. We have the benefit of bans being enacted at different times around the world, Wales enforced theirs before England, parts of America had it before that. What we could always see, no matter what country and what year, was an immediate and predictable effect on trade.

Yesterdays Morning Advertiser acknowledged that we were right:

CGA data has been manipulated by CR Consulting to reveal a striking correlation in the rate of closures in England, Scotland and Wales following the smoking bans in each country.

Previously, the different start times of the ban have obscured the similarity of the decline across Britain, causing commentators to look to other reasons for pubs closing.

Now, the report says “the smoking ban is demonstrably the most significant cause of pub closures”.

“While there is significant variation in the trajectories of the pub estates before the ban there is an almost total correlation between the three GB lines after the ban. This indicates that they are affected by a strong common factor ­— the smoking ban.

“The correlation is in fact so close that the trend line for the three countries is identical.”

and

“With smokers being moved outside, the price premium [in pubs] can no longer be justified [by drinkers] so more people drink at home,” it maintains.

“This has a cumulative effect — as fewer people use the pub it becomes less of a social draw.”

Vindication sure is sweet. It’s pretty disgraceful that this needs to be printed in the news before people believe it, but as they say, common sense isn’t all that common

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