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« Entertainment news | Main | Boris Johnson's New Year message »

Slow death of the British pub

Commenting on the impact of the smoking ban on the pub industry, columnist Vicki Woods - the recipient of a Forest Christmas card promoting the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign - has this to say in today's Daily Telegraph:

In a year when the postman brought me fewer handwritten, stamped and posted Christmas cards, the corporate ones stood out. I liked a depressed Santa sitting under a pub sign saying NOBODY'S INN. It was a Merry Christmas from Forest (the pro-smoking people), hand-signed in different biros by Nicky, Sue x and Squiggle.

On the back was the business: please Save Our Pubs and Clubs by visiting I duly did, and found a campaign pleading for some flexibility over the UK's blanket ban on smoking in public places. I approve of flexibility (and David Hockney, especially when guest-editing on Today) and disapprove of what my late mother called "tin Hitlers", ie people with a statutory authority to boss you about.

Full article HERE. Please comment.

PS. The aforementioned "Squiggle" is, er, me. Note to self: must make signature more legible in future.

Reader Comments (11)

I particularly liked the snowball comment.
The reason being the smoking ban was the tip of the iceberg.
We can all see how a small minority of zealots are cynically manipulating the system for their own ends ,the price is our liberty itself not only in smokers rights but everything else as well.

January 3, 2010 at 12:14 | Unregistered CommenterSpecky

2. Supermarkets to be forced to sell alcohol at a proper price (lets face it pubs can't buy it for what the supermarkets are selling it for)

Ermm, it would be if pub landlords bought their alcohol at supermarkets. So why don't they? Because most of them are tied to some brewery or other, and are obliged to buy their products at their extortionate prices.

By contrast, the supermarkets aren't tied to any brewery, and they can (and do) use their enormous buying power to drive down their suppliers prices. And that will include the price of alcohol.

If pub closures continue at the present rate, strangled by high alcohol prices and smoking bans and so on, breweries will become entirely dependent on supermarkets, who will be able to drive down prices even further. At the same time it will start to become profitable for people to open free houses, independent of any brewery, and buy all their alcohol from supermarkets. They'll be able to undercut tied pubs, and to pick and choose who they buy from. And there'll be lots of empty pubs that breweries and pub chains want to sell them cheap.

The pub will die, and it will then be reborn. Long live the pub.

It may even be that the supermarkets might want to get in on the act. If they started opening their own pubs, they'd be able to sell alcohol to customers at a higher margin than they do in their shops. And carve out a new market for themselves in the process. Coming soon, the Tesco Arms, the Asda and Ferret, the White Sainsbury Hart?

January 3, 2010 at 14:15 | Unregistered Commenteridlex

How sad that a small section of anti-smokers have been able to destroy something that is so very British. These people have forgotten what the real reason that the British Pubs are there for. They were a place to meet your friends, to enjoy some gentle conversation, and for the people who live alone, to find true, and good friends. I visit many old people who live alone, and since the local Pubs have closed, they no longer go now, more people are fully isolated.
What was so wrong with our old system of having smoking and none smoking area's?
If people did not smoke, they remained in the no smoking part.Any staff, who were against smoking, either accepted the situation...or worked somewhere else!
I agree, that Smoking is not healthy, but then many things we enjoyed 'in the old days' were bad for us.
How is it that there are so many 'old' people about these days?...[The Government are always on about this, as we old people are a drain on the system], and yet, all us old people did all those things that were so very bad for us?
We enjoyed lots of salt with our food, we enjoyed eating lots of fat, we smoked what we wanted...when we wanted...without 'feeling' guilty...or 'un-clean'...
These 'do-gooders' have destroyed more, than they have saved!

I hope that they are proud of their work!!

January 4, 2010 at 11:27 | Unregistered CommenterAlfred Nestor

It is about time the media stopped blaming supermarkets selling cheap alcohol for the demise of the pubs. My son and his friends no longer go out drinking because they cannot smoke inside and most places will not allow you to take your drinks outside and who wants to be frozen at this time of year, when you can sit inside and drink at home (anyones) keep warm and smoke as much as you like. I work at a supermarket and old and young alike were saying they would be staying in,some having parties, all because of the ban, not because drink was cheaper.

January 4, 2010 at 11:44 | Unregistered CommenterPauline Sharp

For the past 5 years I have been working on a full-time, voluntary basis running a Community Football Club. We have 15 teams of Juniors/Seniors and the only way we can provide for this is by our bar takings from private functions, discos etc. After the smoking ban our bar takings plummeted by at least 50% which had the knock on effect of not meeting our brewery barrelage figures and a huge increase in interest on our brewery loan. We are now struggling for our very survival. So thanks very much, you do-gooding bunch of moralisers who came up with this idea. Hundreds of kids and the local community will now more than likely be deprived of an excellent sports centre and social club, which will lie derelict as a reminder of what England used to be all about, freedom of choice.

January 4, 2010 at 12:59 | Unregistered CommenterSara Curtis

It was oh so simple a solution.Let the pubs which wanted to be smoking establishments do so and the others likewise.So many ill informed and so far removed from every day society MP`s grabbed at the health science card to add to their credentials and a whole domino effect of woe decended.My pub experience(wich is seldom now) has altered dramatically since July 2007.I dont need to explain as this is obvious.
My overwhelming disgust is at all the apathy and the lie down and die attitude of the british smoking public for taking it so compliantly without a whimper.Look to France,Germany,Spain etc.The Brewers could have done more too,a great deal infact.Now they just hit the landlords for even heavier ground and beer rates.To be honest i`m growing a little tired of tales of hardship from publicans.They do however have my full sympathy, but why cant they all stand together and all us smokers will be standing with them.

January 5, 2010 at 6:30 | Unregistered CommenterFletch

Reading the now 200+ comments on the DT article I actually feel quite heartened. There are many, many pro-amendment comments (be interesting to know the proportion actually) and mostly they are very well made. Could it be we are truly mobilising at last?!

January 5, 2010 at 10:02 | Unregistered CommenterRose Whiteley

Rose, I was thinking the same thing. The minority in favour of the ban virtually all come across as selfish, spiteful and blinkered, while the pro-amendment comments tend to be thoughtful, tolerant and well-written - your own comment being a good example. The fact that this debate has taken place on a national website rather than the usual local paper battlegrounds is good news as well.

January 5, 2010 at 11:44 | Unregistered CommenterRick S

The thing I dont get is why people comply with this law, did they comply with using mobile phones whilst driving NO do people comply with speed limits NO etc etc so how the hell did they manage to enforce this one? I've lit up a couple of times and you would have thought the bomb dropped, publicans terrified of a fine - why - who's coming round to check? no-one, several people I knew were anti-smoking but they've changed their tune now. I say get the ashtrays out light up and to hell with ASH and if enough of us did then this draconian law built upon a pack of lies and misinformation would fail miserably because there is no such thing as "passive smoking"and there never was.

January 6, 2010 at 8:37 | Unregistered CommenterDaveMac

I'm 65yrs and like many of my age group we liked going to our locals or wmc for a drink and a gossip. My husband has never smoked but he has stopped going out because his smoking pals now stay in the house. I smoke and refuse to stand outside so I also don't go out anymore. We are in the fortunate position to be able to go to Germany, Belgium or Holland every 4-6wks on cheap coach trips so we save our money and have a good few days gossiping, drinking and having a cigarette in foreign pubs. It's bad when one has to go abroad to find ones own culture.

January 12, 2010 at 13:45 | Unregistered Commenterjaqueline kaufman

.Get us of the EU by voting UKIP at the next election then we might have a chance of changing the law. It was the EU who brought this law in by unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. These people want a Federal State of Europe just like the old Soviet Union

February 4, 2010 at 16:19 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Wild

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