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Time to support pubs, not boycott them

A couple of months ago I attended the 2010 Scottish Licensed Trade News Awards. I was a guest of Imperial Tobacco who were supporting the Best Smoking Facilities award, which was won by a smoker-friendly bar in Edinburgh, and I wrote about it HERE.

I mentioned that I had bumped into Paul Waterson, president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA). I have known Paul for several years. In 2007 he even attended Forest's Revolt In Style dinner at The Savoy hotel in London.

A couple of weeks before the 2010 SLTN awards Paul had given us a quote in support of our Smoking Gun report that highlighted the impact of the smoking ban on pubs in Britain and I have no doubt that this was a major help in generating a lot of coverage for the report in Scotland.

Comments on this blog were not entirely supportive of the report ("Unless this study reaches the mainstream media then it's little better than useless") or the role of publicans in opposing the smoking ban in Scotland.

I was forced to defend the report and even the publicans themselves. In response, for example, to someone who questioned why I had attended an awards ceremony "for the very people who so actively supported the smoking ban" (eh?), I wrote:

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association (in particular its chief executive Paul Waterson) fought every inch of the way to stop a comprehensive smoking ban being introduced in Scotland. I don't believe they could have done any more than they did. It was good to see Paul at last night's event because he is one of the good guys in all this.

While we continue to fight for amendments to the ban it is important that we support those pubs and clubs that go the extra mile to accommodate smokers in as much comfort as possible.

It is also important to keep the smoking issue alive and in the minds of the hospitality industry. Last night I spoke to a number of people in the hospitality industry in Scotland and was able to do just that. Refusing to engage and operating in a bubble surrounded by like-minded people and preaching only to the converted will get us nowhere.

I mention this because this morning a report in the Aberdeen Press & Journal, headlined 'Publicans appeal for the return of smoking', includes the following quote by our old friend Paul Waterson:

"The ban has had a devastating impact on our members. We were told that pubs would be swamped with people coming back because there would be no smoke, but that has not been the case.

"We would like a system where ventilation ... is a consideration. We could have a pub licence for smoking, but they would have to have a certain level of ventilation equipment in place.

Ventilation works in industrial situations where the air needs to be clean. Why couldn't it work in pubs?"

The article also mentions our Smoking Gun report:

Recent research by the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign showed that 11.1% of pubs north of the border had closed their doors since the ban. There were 6,610 operating pubs in Scotland before the ban. This fell to 5,873 within four years.

If I sound a little put out it's because I am, a bit. Some people - on this blog and elsewhere - are very quick to poor cold water on the work that we do, the contacts that we make (and maintain) and the networking (including the occasional glass of champagne!) that is a necessary part of any lobbying effort.

What this amounts to is keeping the issue alive and, believe me, that's important. I have seen first hand - in Ireland and in Canada - just how hard it is to relight the flame of liberty once it has been allowed to splutter out and die, and I will do everything I can to stop that happening here.

That's why we have NEVER criticised publicans in Scotland, least of all members of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association who, unlike their counterparts in England, have consistently opposed the smoking ban.

It is also why we have NEVER encouraged anyone to boycott pubs as a form of protest. In these difficult economic times it is important to support your local pub before not after it goes bust.

While you are there point out to the landlord and your fellow customers why you continue to oppose the smoking ban and invite them to support the campaign to change it. (Download this poster and ask the landlord to put it on the wall.)

In the new year we will be announcing a special event that will take place in Westminster in 2011. We need as many publicans as possible to come and make their voices heard. And that means working with them, not against them.

Reader Comments (33)

Fair points and well said Simon.

I began boycotting smoke-free places before the ban and afterwards felt there was no point in revisiting those places I could not enjoy because I could not be myself. I also hate the cold and feeling as if I'm being singled out for punishment.

I also felt that by voting against the ban with my feet, then at least as a smoker, I might finally be heard. Our absence from pubs cafes and restaurants where we were once allowed has not gone unnoticed - just ignored.

I believe NuLab knew what the result would be for pubs when they banned smokers but they they decided that some collateral damage was necessary to eradicate tobacco use completely which was their ultimate aim.

Sadly, the NutoryConDems appear to think the same way. After all, when smokers pubs have gone - all that will be left will be non-smokers pubs that won't want smokers in any event and then the issue of closing pubs, smokers, and their right to meet as a social group will disappear.

Thank God we have you and Forest. I can't imagine anyone would even still be talking about the ban if we did not. After all, your blog is one of the places we have shared info, views, and thoughts.

December 29, 2010 at 14:40 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

This is good stuff, Simon, very good. You're keeping up the pressure well. However, you can't blame some of us (most of us?) for no longer going to places that are, most definitely, not what they used to be.

Pat is correct about the motives for a ban. NuLab knew very well the results and it was a win win for the Puritans, two birds with one stone. But SHS is the key and it's not easy as the control freaks know, only too well, that the slightest element of choice brings down the whole pack of cards.

Keep it up, Simon, it's appreciated.

December 29, 2010 at 15:09 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

I don't think smokers in general do actively boycott pubs - it's simply that they don't frequent places that can't offer them what they want. How many beer drinkers would go to pubs if they could only serve soft drinks?

Having said that, it is very clear which pubs do make an effort to accommodate smokers within what the law allows, and which don't - see this piece.

December 29, 2010 at 15:46 | Unregistered CommenterCurmudgeon

Having taken my first drink in a pub 60 years ago and used them all my working life I do not see pubs, deprived of the freedom to decide whether to allow customers to smoke, as pubs any more. I fear that to support them while that freedom is denied is to kiss the tyrant's rod. There is a pub near me which I think is probably happy with the no-smoking rule. I would happily visit it if other pubs nearby were allowed a choice. Until that happens, no pub holds any attraction for me.

December 29, 2010 at 19:11 | Unregistered CommenterNorman

I don't think this is about boycotting pubs. I suspect that many of us stopped going to pubs that we may have frequented, two or three times a week at the end of June 2007. There are only perhaps two months of the year when I would be comfortable to sit or stand around outside a pub, with or without a smoking shelter.

Smokers are clearly no longer welcome in pubs, the no smoking sign on the door may as well say no smokers. Its not about boycotting. The pub smoking ban has clearly made people feel, uncomfortable and not welcome. Much as I do appreciate Simon and the work of Forest. Do you seriously expect people to buy a pint and for them then to stand around outside, in the freezing cold? This is still in my opinion about treating people, worse than animals.

How can you expect smokers to show any support for or loyalty to pubs, when they are being treated like this?

December 29, 2010 at 19:17 | Unregistered CommenterJon

I feel much the same as Pat N. Initially, in the immediate aftermath of the ban I tried my best to give my custom to the specific local which was had a private publican rather than a pubco. I also kept up my pub going habits. But, over the past 12 months or so, I have gradually reduced my pub going by some 60%. Most nights I prefer to stay at home with a glass or two of red. I did not deliberately boycott - I simply found the pub to be not much fun and going outside was a pain in the bum.

I think that many publicans in England were fooled by the labour party manifesto and then by the last minute change in the Health Bill, and one cannot blame them for that.

But there is a bit of a catch 22 in your post, isn't there Simon?! If pubs had flourished post ban, we wouldn't have a leg to stand on! But that is not to say that one wished ill on anyone - closures just happened.

We should not forget a further consequence of the ban, and that this the disincentive for small, more Continental style bars to open. That is something that the publican organisations should perhaps be lobbying about as well.

Also, in our considerations, we should bear in mind the fact that The Government (or should I say, the Tobacco Control element of the Gov) has achieved its REAL purpose by using SHS as an excuse, and that is to stop bar staff and all other workers smoking for several hours per day.

Lastly (sorry to go on), we should bear in mind that publicans exist in every constituency in the country. It would be nice to hear that they are bombarding their MPs with letters supporting an amendment.

December 29, 2010 at 19:18 | Unregistered CommenterJunican

Not a lot to add, really. I too have never actively boycotted pubs. After all, what's the point? It wasn't their idea. And indeed, post-ban I tried to carry on as before, going out 3-4 times a week. However, within months it was obvious that pubs were no longer pubs - they had all the character of a continental McDonalds - just because you're talking to friends and drinking a beer doesn't mean you're in a fun, pub-like environment. You're just in a McDonalds. With friends. Drinking a beer.

I now find pubs to be bland, characterless places (as do most of my friends, the majority of whom were regular pub-goers and are non-smokers) and I don't enjoy going to them no matter how many heaters there are outside (although, on second thoughts I HAVE boycotted pubs that have made zero effort with an outside smoking area - THAT is up to them so if they don't want my custom, then fine).

I now go out three or four times a year - so what's that? A fiftyfold decrease? And that's not only me - that's my entire social group of a dozen plus people. And it's this change in atmosphere that is the key - they are virtually all non-smokers but cite the fact that "pubs changed after the ban" as the reason they no longer visit pubs. And I have to say, I rarely have fun when I do. Smoky-drinkies, house-parties and Poker nights at people's homes are now the way forward for me. I do miss nightclubs and lapdancing joints, though.... ;)

December 29, 2010 at 22:17 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

May I agree with you Simon, never burn your bridges.

I had to sit through a lecture from a a Tory MP who I know quite well, that he found smoking 'disgusting' a 'dirty habit' and his children would 'never smoke.' Suitably chastised I stiffened up the upper lip.

However he is one of the 53 signatories who want the display ban scrapped and his majority is monstrous, a hard man to replace.

To my mind the change in attitiudes may have been reached. You cannot imagine the importance that the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has added to the debate, this is ground breaking. The industry feels confident to speak up on behalf of its customers and one can only be optimistic.

December 29, 2010 at 22:51 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Hey! I haven't boycotted pubs, I still go to them in the summer if they have a beer garden. :)

December 29, 2010 at 23:10 | Unregistered CommenterDick Puddlecote

What I really, really miss is going out for lunch or dinner and I feel wistful that attention seems to be focussed only on wet-led pubs with foodie pubs (and coffee/tea shops) ignored. It's as if it's accepted, even among smokers, that smoking should be outlawed where eats are involved. It seems to have been forgotten that there are many elderly women on their own who don't go to pubs, whose social life consists of meeting a friend for a cup of coffee or an evening playing bingo and that an amendment to the ban to allow wet-led pubs to offer a ventilated smoking room will make no difference to them. I would, personally, prefer an amendment to allow business owners to decide whether or not to allow smoking which would include non-pub goers. Perhaps, however, it's a case of walking before running...

December 30, 2010 at 0:08 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

Like many other posters above - I haven't actively boycotted pubs - I just don't want to go anymore. But I think we do have to tackle some pub owners attitude to the smoking ban, and its worth noting CAMRA supported the ban which led to my immediate cancellation of my membership.

But during the commons vote, the pub lobby actively worked to push for a total ban when there was still a chance that private clubs could be smoking - all on the basis of the 'level playing field'. This attitude remains, as can be shown by the quote below from the Press and Journal...


Mark Milne, who runs The Spider’s Web in Station Road, Dyce, Aberdeen, said he would have backed the proposal if it had been introduced at the time of the smoking ban but it was now too late to backtrack.

He said: “Certainly, at the time it came about, we would have all been in favour of having pubs you could smoke in and ones you could not – that was part of the big argument at the time.

“Now it would be quite difficult to go back the way. People understand this is the way it is. It’s a blanket ban, but it could start to get confusing for people. We are so far down the line we are stuck with it.

“There’s quite a fair playing field now as all the premises are the same. It would be unfair to change and have some premises smoking and some not. A level playing field is really what we are looking for.”


This bar owners feeling towards the 'level playing field' remains - as well as a defeatist attitude that the ban will never be lifted anyway. He claims allowing smoking rooms in some pubs would be 'unfair'. Children complain about things being unfair - adults know that in life you make your own fairness. Those who work hard, take risks and cater for their customers will create a fair outcome for themselves. Thats a market economy.

December 30, 2010 at 7:46 | Unregistered CommenterMark Butcher

I agree with Junican about the tobacco control Govt trying to stop people smoking and the interference has changed my smoking habit which I despise because how I smoke should be my choice. I had cut down but now my smoking has increased and whereas I never lit up in the first three hours of being awake, I now find I chain smoke before going to work and smoke more during my half hour lunch break than I ever did before.

I also agree with Joyce. I am not much of an alcohol drinker. I loved cafes and restaurants before the ban but I can't use them now. The tea and coffee goes cold before I have a chance to drink it in the cold weather. My favourite Italian restaurant closed shortly after the ban. The owner sold it just before the ban because he knew what was going to happen. It went down very quickly after July 2007 under the new owner and didn't last a year.

I also get annoyed with smokers who believe smoking where there is food is "wrong". Again, it depends on personal choice. Personally, I hate the smell of perfume near me when I'm eating far more than any wisp of smoke but this seems acceptable because often those who hate smoking like perfume. Of course if we lived in a free country where private property owners could decide their own customer policies, then we would all be happy and all be catered for.

sadly, we live in a dictatorship where we are told what we can eat and drink and what pleasures we are allowed or denied. I expect they'll be telling us when and during what times of the day we can visit the toilet next. Climate change, no doubt, will be the weapon used to bully us into submission on that one.

We should support those landlords who support us and there are many but they live in fear of prosecution and having their property stolen from them for daring to back those that the tobacco control govt hates - especially those who are trying to maintain the old cultural feeling of the what was once the unique British pub. The puritans have killed it and I despise them for it.

December 30, 2010 at 10:27 | Unregistered CommenterPat Nurse

I certainly haven't boycotted MY local.: it has a well-ventillated Smoker-Toleration Zone known as The Garden. I spent a delightful hour under a parasol one rain-drenched night back in June, 2008 - chatting to one of the most beautiful young Asian barmaids (a smoker) I've ever met. For THAT reason alone, I may even go back. One day.

As to the plight of the (private) Landlord, I have nothing but the deepest sympathy - which more than matches my contempt for the pubcos and the corporate dingbats that run them. But my greatest anger is reserved for the vast bulk of my fellow countrymen: a Fairy Princess is killed (‘tragic’ , I know) in a car accident, and millions are out on the street blubbing their hearts out in an orgy of recreational grief. Why, physical violence is even visited upon some poor sod who daringly nicked a single teddy bear from the Everest of devotional objects thrown up outside the railings of Buck House. But a petty-tyrannical government can rip away our Freedoms under the most patently absurd pretexts, and there's barely a grumble. No tears there for the Little Old Lady imprisoned in her lonely one-bedroom flat, or the hundreds of thousands like her. You’d probably get more impassioned debate if the BBC shut down the Old Vic, and converted it into a sushi bar-cum-internet café. It's things like that which make ME cry !

December 30, 2010 at 11:04 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Alcohol doesn't suit me so I don't drink it, I used to drink lemonade or coffee if they'd got it, at the pub.
A wonderful evening just chatting with friends.

But since the change of use, there's nothing for me there.
I can stand freezing outside in my own garden, if I feel the need.

If my favourite flower shop turned into a bookies, I would have no longer have any reason to visit.
It's the same thing.

December 30, 2010 at 11:21 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

I agree that we should engage with and support any publicans, or representatives of publicans, who are anti-ban and willing to actually try to do something about it. I will also occasionally visit pubs which have made an effort with decent outside areas, and will make a point of letting them know that's why I'm there. However, I HAVE for the most part boycotted pubs for three reasons: (1) with some exceptions, they (pubcos, anyway) quite passively accepted the ban or actively promoted the 'level playing field' idea (in other words, they boycotted me first!) (2) Being in a nonsmoking pub makes me angry and depressed, especially when I'm not even 'in' the pub at all, and (3) voting with my feet, and with my wallet, is just about the only action I CAN take, which might conceivably have some effect. If I just keep going to the pub as usual, I feel that I am in effect supporting the ban - or at least, enabling both antismokers and publicans to claim that the ban makes no difference and therefore doesn't need to be changed!

Where exactly am I missing the point here?

December 30, 2010 at 11:39 | Unregistered CommenterJoe Jackson

Here's the problem.

ASH and Thompsons' Tell Employers:
Don't Say You Weren't Warned Over Secondhand Smoke

"The hospitality trade faces a rising threat of legal action from employees whose health is damaged by secondhand smoke, after a new tie-up between health campaigning charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) and the UK's largest personal injury and trade union law firm Thompsons was announced today.

ASH has sent a registered letter to all the UK's leading hospitality trade employers, warning them that the "date of guilty knowledge" under the Health and Safety at Work Act is now past, and that employers should therefore know of the risks of exposing their staff to secondhand smoke. Employers who continue to permit smoking in the workplace are therefore likely to be held liable by the courts for any health damage caused. ASH and Thompsons intend to use the letters in any future court cases as evidence that employers have been fully informed of the issue.

ASH and Thompsons are also planning further steps to encourage employees who believe their health has been harmed by smoking in the workplace to seek legal advice on making a claim for compensation. These will be announced shortly."

While politicians still pay lip service to this belief, however "manifestly unfounded" they and the hospitality industry are in a hole they now can't get out of, unless they admit that ventilation does work.

In which case questions will have to be asked and a lot of compensation paid.

December 30, 2010 at 11:57 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

"Employers who continue to permit smoking in the workplace are therefore likely to be held liable by the courts for any health damage caused..............."

Now I may be a little out of date here, but are there ANY High Court (and above)cases which have a) accepted this putative causality between SHS and serious health problems by 'the staff', and b) found the defendants liable in negligence (one imagines) as a result ?

The coming into force of the Ban - one need hardly point out - has absolutely NO effect upon Medical Science. Either X 'causes' Y (on a balance of probablity in a civil action), or it does not. The fact that X has been banned is of absolutely no consequence whatever.

If no such case law exists, then ASH is PLAINLY LYING when it says that employers are 'likely' to be found liable, since it has no precedent upon which to base such a statement. In other words, this sounds very much like pure intimidation.

And when fundamental principles of the Common Law AND Science become subservient to Political Expediency, and the ipse dixit of some government or quasi-governmental lackey, then you ARE - whether you like it or not - living under a Dictatorship. I sincerely hope people have grasped this most obvious of facts.

December 30, 2010 at 12:57 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

We certainly would not boycott our local but almost none of them are now recognizable as a traditional pub - all down lighting and parque flooring - no soul whatsoever. Add to that the smell of cooking burgers, sausages, pizzas etc., and the delightful sound of children shouting and screaming in competition with the widescreen television...I'm only too happy to head for the door to smoke my cigarette and face the elements.

But all this has worn us down and we now tend to stay at home and enjoy a glass of wine, and for me a cigarette, in warmth, comfort and security.

My husband does not smoke but heartily condemns the morons denying the people and the publicans a choice. There is absolutely no reason on this earth, considering the technology we now have at our disposal, why we cannot have ventilated indoor smoking areas in pubs, clubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, etc.

I don't post very often but read this site nearly every day and, once again, I would like to thank Simon and all of you who are trying so hard to get this unreasonable ban amended. It's my understanding the Dutch have taken a stand..perhaps we may also see a crack in the brick wall before too long.

Happy New Year

December 30, 2010 at 13:01 | Unregistered CommenterPensioner Ellie

"I have seen first hand - In Ireland and Canada - just how hard it is to relight the flame of liberty once it has been allowed to splutter out and die"
This couldnt be more true in Ireland where, now that we are about to get rid of the gang of Inglorious Bastartds that make up the incumbent govt, the Health Minister of the about to be new govt, who incidentally looks like a thug, has stated that as smoking has increased rather than decreased since the smoking ban, stronger measures will have to be taken, like putting the disgusting rotting flesh scaremongering photos on packs of fags, educating school children on the dangers of smoking and quoting pseudoscience smoke death statistics etc etc etc. while not mentioning a word about the thousands of people lying for days on hospital trolleys, or having to wait up to 2 years for cancer tests and the closure of hospital wards.
It seems that when the cushy job offer with the massive pensions attached comes along, the sputtering flame of liberty doesnt come into the equation where the populist vote is concerned.

December 30, 2010 at 13:08 | Unregistered Commenterann

The Leisure Industry in Spain take a different approach which should have been taken in the UK, they REFUSE to police the ban.

However, that is now history in the UK and what is needed is an ALLIANCE of all Organisations affected by Tobacco Control measures to fight TOGETHER.

Retailers, Licencees, Newsagents, Brewers, and of course the Licensed Trade Organisations should come together just as the Anti-Smoking Organisations do and show a united front.

December 30, 2010 at 13:15 | Unregistered CommenterEddie Douthwaite

I think ASH are playing at smoke and mirrors here. I have just researched the Alfred Mctear vs Imperial Tobacco court case and he was a 60 a day smoker who died of lung cancer and his wife sued for compensation. Most importantly the judgement said.

"While it was not in dispute that Mr McTear died of lung cancer, there was no proof that Imperial Tobacco's product had caused the cancer which killed him, the judge said.

"In delivering his judgement, judge Lord Nimmo Smith said Mrs McTear's case had failed on every count. I am satisfied that advertising had nothing to do with his reasons for starting to smoke.

"He started to smoke because it was socially acceptable and most young people started smoking as part of becoming adults."

As for public awareness of the potential risks from smoking, Lord Nimmo Smith said he was satisfied that by 1964 the general public in the UK were "well aware of the health risks associated with smoking."

Also if one or more of the cases fail it could blow open the whole anti tobacco's case on the 'harm' of SHS. I thunk their bluff should be called.

December 30, 2010 at 13:17 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Re: Rose2's post:

Oooh! A new tactic from ASH. Didn’t hear about them actively promoting this kind of thing before the ban came in, did we? Here we go with yet another “chickens with their heads cut off” scenario from the anti-smoking lobby – of which we have seen quite a lot over the last couple of years or so, rising at almost exactly the same rate as interest in all things smoking-related from their erstwhile supporters has diminished.

It's the stuff of people in a real panic, because, thinking about it logically (and legally), now that the ban is in it just won’t achieve anything. Maybe before the ban it might have added some impetus to the campaign to get it into law, but now it all just seems a bit pointless. And anyway, who are all these “employers who still allow their employees to smoke?” I know of many who banned smoking even before it became a legal requirement, and none who have broken the ban regulations since, so the vast majority of them will be well and truly off the hook as far as compensation claims are concerned.

And, given the very shaky foundations upon which the SHS myth rests, I would have thought that the last thing that ASH and their cohorts want is for that very dubious and tenuous “proof” coming under any kind of scrutiny by the courts. It could well be that the first person to take them up on this wonderful offer might prove to be the person who brings the whole pack of cards tumbling down on their heads.

Oh, and just as an aside, do you think that ASH have considered the possibility that if any such claims are made, and even more so if they become commonplace, it would actually make smokers a much more attractive proposition for employers to take on, becuase any "smoke-related" illnesses would automatically be blamed on their active smoking, rather than - as in the case of a non-smoking employee - be likely to be blamed on a wisp of someone else's smoke ......

Times must indeed be desperate for ASH to be taking such a big gamble as this.

December 30, 2010 at 13:33 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Dave A -

Many thanks for that (I couldn't remember the case you cited - and was not in a googling mood).

Yes - Smoke and Mirrors from these scum, as usual. And I make NO aopology for using the word SCUM, either !

Eddie D -

I agree with you 100%. A broad Alliance is probably the best way to go. If even HALF the 10-11 million smokers affected had bothered to make SOME sort of protest via letter, e-mail etc then we probably wouldn't still be debating this. But, given that the vast majority are plainly too bone-idle to get their carcasses off the sofa for half an hour, we're going to have to take the Organised-And-Influential-Minority route. Arguably, always the better idea anyway.

December 30, 2010 at 13:39 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

Misty - that ASH letter pre-dates the introduction of the ban: it seems that when they thought that the UK wouldn't introduce one, they resorted to intimidation.

I suspect that the letter worked as, prior to the ban, there did seem to be a significant increase in the number of venues going smokefree. I think that, not content with rate of voluntary change, ASH decided that HMG had to be bullied into legislating. I'd like to have seen a raft of claims by employees, all of them shot down in flames which would have put an end to the passive smoking scam.

December 30, 2010 at 14:04 | Unregistered CommenterJoyce

So yet again, it is the pubcos who are to blame. Not only did they, at best roll over, and at worst collude in all that happened, they could, if they had had the inclination, called ASH's bluff. I see now why ASH were crowing about their tactics pre-smoking ban being "a confidence trick." If any one of the large pubcos had actually taken such a case to court the SHS myth would have been wholly exposed and Tobacco Control would have been destroyed in this country once and for all. Even the ASHites, living in their Tobacco Control bubble, must be aware of the scarcity of scientic evidence for SHS. ASH put everything on the line and tried their best to keep a poker-face. And the cowardly pubcos who care not a jot for their customers, crumbled and let them take the pot.

I blame them now, not only for the hundreds of thousands of pub closures, but for the never-ending rise of "Public Health" and the junk science that fuels it. If they had been exposed then I doubt very much we would be seeing minimum booze pricing, salt and sugar limits in biscuits, and all the rest of the nonsense we have seen since the victory of these lobby groups three years ago.

December 30, 2010 at 15:53 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

So far, those in charge of us have done a marvellous job - they have managed to close down many thousands of social venues substantially aided by the anti-smoking legislation. Those who have power wish to control their subjects. It is far easier to control people if their social/meeting venues are anihilated and people no longer wish to congregate and talk to each other. The key to all this is not about second hand smoke or even protecting the health of the bar staff - all that is utter tosh. It is about control - control over the individual and control over the populus generally. Very sadly, a lot of us seem to enjoy being controlled, nannied, bullied, bossed about and treated like infants. The people who frequent this site obviously don't like being isolated, bossed about and bullied, but there are millions out there who obviously love being treated like third class citizens. I still go to the pub because it's the only place left for me where I can meet other people, after having had my employment taken away from me in/by the controlled education system. I cannot repeat the word 'control' enough. That's the key to all this - CONTROL!

December 30, 2010 at 18:32 | Unregistered CommenterJenny of Yorkshire

Jenny -

You've obviously been doing your homework ! I shudder to think what the NEXT step is. 'Naked' body-scanners at pub entrances, perhaps (to 'protect' us from Real Ale-guzzling suicide bombers) ? Know something ? Most people would even put up with THAT ("Well, I mean, you know, the Government wouldn't do it if it wasn't necessary, would it ?") - so habituated have they become to being bossed around by ANYONE with a smattering of 'authority'. But I expect it's all for the best in our Panglossian Age. Now where DID I put my Lithium Pills?

December 30, 2010 at 19:28 | Unregistered CommenterMartin V

The corruption and vested interests within Globalink, the Tobacco Control Division of the WHO must be exposed before we can rid the world of Smoking Bans. Until that day comes, then anything else is a pipedream.

December 30, 2010 at 23:28 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson


Thanks for pointing out that the “legal” initiative pre-dated the ban. What a pity a few moneygrabbers didn’t take up the cudgel, bringing the whole SHS story under scrutiny of the courts. Things might have turned out very differently had they done so.

Regarding Simon’s suggestion that we should all support pubs before they vanish forever, I can see his point, but quite simply I just don’t enjoy popping into pubs now. I think that the industry has brought this upon itself to a large degree, and although it’s easy to lay much blame at the door of the pubcos, a glance at the combined efforts of small bar owners in other countries shows what a concerted effort might have achieved here. I’ve suggested on various comments sections in the Publican that perhaps now is the time for independent pub owners to form their own trade association, free from the shackles of the existing ones which have let their smaller members down so badly - there must, surely, be plenty of now-out-of-work pub owners who know enough about the business (and who now have enough time on their hands) to organise and run such an organisation, but so far there hasn’t even been so much as an “Ah, but” type response. It’s as if they collectively put their fingers in their ears and sing “la, la, la” to themselves every time the subject gets raised.

So, there is a bit of me which, much though the demise of the “local” saddens me, doesn’t see why I should make myself go somewhere where I’m made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome just to support the flagging livelihoods of a bunch of people who don’t seem remotely interested in making even a token gesture of an effort to help themselves.

December 31, 2010 at 2:39 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

I dont boycott pubs. I just dont bother any more. There is no way i will take my wife out to endure that awful weather I will not have her standing out for a fag. Sorry Simon but i do understand what you say. We used to be trendy dressed and have a good time in the eighties & ninties. Not any more. Bags of booze and fags at home. And yes, No politician will ever ever amend the ban, not even UKIP Margot. So please do not be niave. The attack is by strength of numbers nothing more. Very best wishes for the New Year everyone. PS why do people buy clothes in the sales when theres nowhere to wear them ?

December 31, 2010 at 17:36 | Unregistered CommenterPeter James

Perhaps it would be useful if The Scottish Licensed Trade Association now canvases all it members to determine exactly what they and their patrons want?

January 1, 2011 at 13:27 | Unregistered CommenterDavid

It is clear from this thread that most commenting on here no longer regularly visit pubs. Although some pubs have made more of an effort to accommodate smokers, providing shelters which I personally might use in the summer months, say in May?
Providing fifty percent enclosed shelters is in my opinion treating people worse than animals.When separate buildings or ventilated rooms could be provided. I am hopeful that this aspect of it alone, will cause the pack of cards to collapse.
The Uk is fast becoming a society that does not tolerate smokers.

January 5, 2011 at 18:09 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Jon said :
"The Uk is fast becoming a society that does not tolerate smokers."

I say "Smokers should not tolerate UK society in it's current form"

January 6, 2011 at 0:18 | Unregistered CommenterEddie Douthwaite

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