Above: public health minister Anne Milton MP and Deborah Arnott, director of ASH, at the latter's annual general meeting, December 15, 2010.
H/T Brian Bond via Dave Atherton
Brian points out that Anne Milton is married to the director of public health for the East Surrey PCT while her Wiki profile reveals that:
"In February 2006, Milton was among a minority of Conservative MPs to oppose exceptions for private clubs from the proposed Smoking ban in England. Milton had previously announced her opposition to a partial ban, stating it was "the worst possible solution. In summer 2007 David Cameron appointed her Shadow Minister for Health".
Funnily enough I wrote recently to Milton querying her statement, reported by the Morning Advertiser last month, that "there is little, if any, evidence that would link the closure of pubs and clubs to the introduction of [the smoking bans]”.
I pointed out that:
Over the period 1990-2010 the total number of pubs has indeed shown a long-term decline from around 63,500 to 52,000.
However, a little analysis demonstrates the considerable acceleration of the trend from the end of 2006 – the last data point before the bans in England, Wales and N Ireland.
The period from 2006-10 showed an average closure rate of 2.7% a year - over four times as fast as the long-term trend of 0.6%. In other words, on average more than a thousand more pubs closed each year after the bans than before.
Given the frequent references to the impact of the smoking ban by licensed trade associations and companies this is likely to be much more than just a coincidence.
Please find attached a research paper that examines the pub closure data in more detail. This shows an almost exact correlation between the rates of decline in pub numbers in Scotland, England, Wales and even the Republic of Ireland, when viewed in comparison to the varying dates of their bans.
All of these data are publicly available. Given the commitment of the Government to a private sector-led recovery, the closure of more than a thousand businesses a year in a key part of the economy surely requires a more thorough investigation and review.
I look forward to your response and hope that the Government will review its decision not to review the smoking ban in accordance with a commitment given by the previous government.
Needless to say, I'm not holding my breath.