The Real Pub Situation

Copyright 2009 All Rights Reserved

MSN Today has released an article [1] giving the true picture for British pubs. In the article on Heart Attacks since the ban I showed how figures are bastardised and twisted to suit the needs of the anti-smoking movement. This practise has also been used in trying to convince the public that the ban has had a neutral or positive effect on pubs and clubs.

Whilst anti-smoking groups continue to lie to the public to assure them that the smoking ban has been good for business [2] (stopping just short of claiming that the owners of those in the hospitality sector are lying or crazy to think their business(es) are suffering) the facts show otherwise. Of course, pub owners and clients have been saying pretty much since day one of the ban that it has caused a drop in business, and Ireland especially has seen lots of closures [3]. America, too, has seen a lot of business loss, and this page really highlights the reality [4].  Just one look at most pubs - city or village - will show that there are much less people inside, and the people who did decide to still go are outside either smoking or socialising with the smokers. Ironically, the ban went ahead without a public vote for 'public health', and yet the public are still exercising their remnants of freedom by choosing to waver their health by sitting with the smokers anyway. In short: inside or outside, non-smokers are with the smokers. So apparently it's not only smokers suffering from the cold and rain, it's the non-smokers too. Are they to give up socialising like smokers are meant to give up smoking?

On to the MSN article then. According to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) British pubs have closed at the rate of five a day during the first half of this year, with closures now at 36 a week - a 33% increase from 2007.  "Pubs are now closing nine times faster than in 2006 and 18 times faster than in 2005, the figures, compiled by market researcher CGA Strategy, show. A total of 1,409 pubs closed during 2007." Those really are staggering figures. Let's put it in perspective: pubs are, by their nature, not health clubs. They are not intended to be places for children. They are, then, places for adults to enter to not attempt to get healthy. Instead, they have a drink, perhaps a smoke, and chat with old friends whilst making new friends. Why, then, can free thinking adults in a democratic society not decide whether or not to walk into an establishment which they know allows smoking.  I mean, this isn't an issue of an unwitting person walking into a bar, being choked by second hand smoke and tied up by the clientele to suffer the fumes. No, these are free people making free choices.

People naively think the ban is simply affecting smokers, and taking away their right to smoke. Sadly, this is not the case. Now the choice has gone for anyone to decide to enter a smoky bar, for a non-smoker to choose to sit with a smoker, or a landlord/lady to choose the legal activities which go on in their premises. Not only have people had their choice revoked, the owners of the pubs have had their business denied, their livelihoods taken away, and their way of life removed. Will the government offer them free sheltering and give them new jobs? Of course not.

Let us not forget that a pub is a privately owned building which the owner chooses to open to the public. It is not the publics decision what goes on in that bar, just as a guest cannot dictate to a homeowner what they can or cannot do. It is about time that people realised they have no rights in a bar, and the landlord makes the decisions. In this way, why are non-smokers demanding a smoke free bar when it should be up to the landlord?

The article continues with BBPA chief executive Rob Hayward saying that "...the Government seems intent on increasing the burden on pubs.  Its current proposals to target pubs with a raft of new red tape such as statutory codes of conduct and ratchet up taxes with its beer duty escalator will only make matters worse...Thousands of much-loved community pubs are under threat. They are at the heart of every community and a major tourist draw for Britain. Without a change of heart from the Government, many more are facing closure. With so many pubs in peril, the Government's threat of further stealth taxes on beer cannot go unanswered. And with food and fuel prices rocketing, this is a terrible time to be hitting pub-goers with more taxes."

So the Government has removed a large chunk of the customers from pubs, forcing many to close and the ones remaining open to struggle financially, and now, to add insult to injury, is increasing taxes - during hard times for everyone as it is - on beer, making it more costly for people to drink there.

All this may lead some people to think that the Government has something against pubs and is intent on shutting them all down, one way or another.  This issue goes way beyond smoking, as the whole anti-smoking movement seems to be doing. This can only be a good thing, because the further away it moves, the more people it affects, and the deeper it digs its own grave.