Written by the chairman of Freedom2Choose, Phil Johnson to mark the 4th anniversary of the UK smoking ban.
As we prepare to commiserate with the 4th anniversary of this despicably implemented smoking ban we have the distinct displeasure of having to read through what is generally termed as an “Academic Review” of the ban-though I am certainly unsure as to the quality of the ‘academic’ producing this “Evidenced Review”, for there is very little evidence to back up the claimed success of this ban. I would have put this finished result at the door of possibly a first year medical student, but more than probably a 16 years old wannabe medical student, such is the low calibre presented.
I quote:- “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses”
This statement alone shows that the people employed to complete this vastly overpaid (and overvalued) report have no real understanding of what is actually going on ‘out there’, in the real world. I fully expected Linda Bauld to announce such a thing but for ASH to publicly announce exactly the same shows just how anti tobacco ‘beds are made’!
Land-Locked-Murdered by law
From Day-1 of this ban, the effect on the pub trade has been onerous as smokers decided for themselves that being forced outside to enjoy that which is a legal product, was a step too far. It is significant to note that 2005/2006 both saw around 400 pubs close yet the year of implementation (2007) 1,409 public houses closed their doors for ever. Worse still, in 2008, 1,973 public houses bowed to the inevitable; the inevitable being that smokers keep pubs alive & thriving.
Murdered by law
It was said that pubs needed to change to cope with ‘difficult trading conditions’ but what could smaller, land-locked pubs do? The smoking ban law virtually signed the death warrant of at least 10,000 public houses from the day it was implemented. Only large pubs have the space to create a commercial kitchen and seating for enough dining customers to even attempt to make a living from diners, that may or may not have a drink with a meal. Many people simple drink water with their meal for asthmatic reasons or objection to the SB law. In any event, pubs are not going to survive on “2 for £10” meal-deals for long, especially as more and more pubs are offering this cut price service.Land-locked
At its peak the death toll of pubs had reached 52 closures per week which only goes to show the spending power of smokers. By February 2010 that figure had reduced to 39 per week, which is still a considerable weekly number of businesses to lose!
But we must remember, and I quote:- “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses”
It is now a well documented fact that 68% of regular drinker customers were smokers, therefore to remove such amounts of people entirely from any businesses customer base would be tantamount to financial suicide and condemning that business to a certain death, hence the figure of 2,365 closures in the year 2009.
A recent survey shows that Bar closures are heavier in cities, but then that would not surprise anyone that took notice of what was going on in the real world! A report out by CR Consulting shows the bar closures throughout the UK, and concludes that contrary to expectation urban pubs have suffered more than rural and suburban ones. The populations affected are younger with larger concentrations of smokers. The report also shows how closures have accelerated since the smoking bans in Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland. Data shown for all regions of the United Kingdom-yet according to what is now becoming an obviously ‘Un-evidenced Review’, the author maintains “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses”. I am totally failing to see where there is a net positive effect anywhere!
Linda Bauld also tells us that there is a 'fifth study' examining secondary evidence. She says all her evidence is 'peer reviewed' but there's no trace of this ‘study’. Why not? This is just another case of ba(u)ld statements with no back up whatsoever! Anti tobacco propaganda - in its usual shoddy form.
To compound the authors misery BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds states “The government is set to lose more than £250m in tax revenues this year if the current rate of closures continues” £250m in lost revenue, and that is only 2009!
Simmonds further added: “Pubs make a significant and valuable contribution to both the national economy and community life. It’s time for government to work with our industry and put into practice policies that support pubs and local communities.”
Of course what Brigid Simmonds was unaware of was the colossal power being brought to bear on government by the WHO (FCTC), backed by the ever greedy Pharmaceutical Industry., who are not averse to ‘donating’ the odd $billion here or there!
With approximately 1,700 pubs closed in 2010 (direct figure to be confirmed) and the same number forecast for 2011 we are looking at a total closure figure of 9,147 once perfectly viable businesses no longer servicing communities. In fact, a report by the most reputable company, CR Consulting, had this to say:- “the smoking ban is demonstrably the most significant cause of pub closures”. They further state, “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.”
Not unsurprisingly CR Consulting conclude that “With smokers being moved outside, the price premium [in pubs] can no longer be justified [by drinkers] so more people drink at home. This has a cumulative effect — as fewer people use the pub it becomes less of a social draw.”
That has summed the whole pubs & clubs situation up quite neatly, for when smokers departed, many non smoking friends departed with them. Indeed, many pubs previously survived on being 90%-95% smoker orientated, but then they were never intended to be ‘family pubs’. Such pubs were much larger and designed to be family orientated with ample dining facilities and play areas for small children-they were the pubs least likely to be suffocated by the ban; a distinct minority. Every major city would have several such venues but a plethora of smaller, more personalised pubs to enjoy leisure time in-they are disappearing fast! International proof of business is a simple and blunt truth!
There are numerous points to be raised from this ‘evidenced review’ as parts of it make no sense whatsoever! For instance, the author elects to use English licensing data-when in actual fact there isn't any? Instead she examines the Scottish licensing data-which of course is irrelevant to this English review. Again this amplifies the shoddy work that is presented as an “Evidenced Review” at considerable cost to the British taxpayer.
Freedom2choose.info carried out two major surveys with regard to the effects of the smoking ban, those being “The Licensees View” and the “Under 25’s Survey”. Both are easily accessible via ‘Google search’. Yet neither has been referred to in the “Evidenced Review”. In fact, the further we delve into the effects of the smoking ban the more social isolation we discover!
The good old fashioned British village pub (part of our heritage), is slowly but surely being removed from our society, leaving many communities without that important community/social centre where people can congregate to discuss matters of all topics. In 2010, 893 village pubs closed forever, leaving 893 communities stranded with no social point of contact. This has led to ‘loneliness’ being cited as the biggest killer of all!. In one year alone, government has isolated 893 communities and pointed each toward cheaper beers at the nearest town’s supermarket-and the supermarkets love it! One only has to visit this link to see the holocaust caused by the smoking ban in our rural communities.
It is obvious that the authors quote:- “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses” is looking completely baseless already but there is more!
Clubland has suffered greatly at the hands of the smoking ban, Indeed in March 2007 they (WMCIU) forecast that a total smoking ban would be disastrous for their trade as 20% forecast closure. Remarkably, a whole 1% thought a ban would be beneficial (must have been related to the Review author!).
In August 2008, amid numerous other club closures, Britain’s oldest WMC (in Coventry) finally closed its doors after 147 years of serving the good workers of Coventry. Even before that closure the 2nd oldest club in the country had been forced to close its doors for good as the ‘Oadby and Wigston WMC’ had no option but to close due to lack of patronage. Situated on Long Street, Wigston, it opened in 1869 after a group of allotment holders decided they needed somewhere to socialise. Despite flourishing, it has seen a sharp drop in takings since the smoking ban came in and now there is no club in Wigston!
Murdered by law
Laughably it was originally proposed that the building be converted into a pub but that idea has been put on hold as becoming a pub is definitely not a bright idea in present day climate!Yorkshire Club Black Country Club North Oxfordshire Club Died: 27/02/2010 Died: 04/06/2011 Died: 27/05/2011
Again we find the hype “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses” to be totally at odds with actual events taking place. Further indication that the author has promoted that which she feels the paymasters require-somewhat akin to the SCOTH Committee methinks!
Sadly, more than 1,000 clubs have closed since July 2007-one of them, ironically being Tony Blair’s own constituency club! Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR), said,
“The Labour Party only had itself to blame. It's always distressing when licensed premises have to close but in this case the patrons need look no further than their own party in government for someone to blame. The smoking ban may have had good intentions but it was shockingly badly implemented - Dr John Reid saw the signs and suggested special categories, but was ignored.”Indeed, John Reid did spell out the problems of a total ban but such was the outcry from such as Arnott, Sandford, Dockrell et al that MPs were totally hoodwinked into believing that SHS was more deadly than ‘Sarin gas’. However the much vaunted “Smoke & Mirrors” campaign by ASH, using any means possible, was suddenly hugely successful resulting in the ‘free vote’ in the House of Commons being anything but ‘free’. But Labour enjoyed a massive majority as it was, seemingly, so simple to semi-brainwash politicians!
Now we come to Bingo Halls. It is stated that large bingo halls, ie Rank, Mecca etc. reward the government with approximately £780,000 per annum in ‘bingo tax’, not an inconsiderable sum of money, but as they connect for a massive ‘National Prize Game’ it is not surprising that revenue is very high within this sphere. The effect of the smoking ban has been catastrophic as smokers have stayed away in their thousands-simply because they are no longer allowed to smoke. Such is the hysteria surrounding
Murdered by lawJust a small sample from 2009 shows the impact on the Bingo industry as Gala (Coral Bookmakers empire) close 5 more outlets and shed 300 jobs as attendances fall away & government taxes sneak upwards. The costs in revenue terms of these lost venues is colossal-and this is all revenue that goes directly to the Treasury and we have already seen that they are losing at least £250m per annum from the pubs!
Sadly, we still fail to find where “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses”
We now have the GMB Union belatedly bemoaning the 39% losses to the industry but it is almost too late for them to step in and try and save members jobs as they have done exactly that-left it too late before action is taken! It is somewhat farcical that the unions leapt on the anti smoking bandwagon, for fear of endangering their members and/or being sued for not protecting them from something that their own Health & Safety found harmless, for they are now finding increasing numbers of their members becoming unemployed-courtesy of the smokefree legislation.
Many hotels have taken up the gauntlet and decided not to embrace smokers at all, declaring themselves totally smoke free. This, of course is their prerogative but they immediately cut themselves off from 25% of the nation’s customer base. It is notable that one well known British chain was asked, when implementing this policy, why they did not allow smokers at all? Their response was ‘that they were protecting their staff’. However, when further asked what they were protecting their staff from, they failed to answer (and still haven’t managed to do so after 4 years). It is very noticeable now, that they are advertising rooms, on national TV, at near half the old price and paying Lenny Henry an exorbitant fee to throw himself on a bed! So exactly where has “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses?”
Restaurants & nightclubs are also suffering as this ban bites deeper and deeper into our lives and the economy of this country. Common sense needs to prevail-and fast!
And so the death toll climbs, relentlessly, throughout the hospitality sector, despite the “Evidenced Review” authors claims. It will continue to rise for the simple reason that the pubcos themselves have stated they need to shed another 2,300 pubs ‘to suit their portfolio’s’, which in normal language means that number of pubs are not earning the pubco any money thus need to be offloaded. It can be stated, therefore and with some degree of certainty, that another 20,000-25,000 jobs will be lost: but that seems of little concern to the anti tobacco lobby-nor does the extra £3.6m-£4.5m it will cost government in Jobseekers Allowance (per week) alone!
Subsidiary companies also fall away because of the ban. The large gaming machine company, Bell-Fruit, in Lenton (Nottingham) axed 50% of its workforce as demand for their machines dropped with smokers deserting the pubs.
Breweries have cut back on staff, including draymen as beer sales have fallen dramatically since 1st July, 2007. Pub staff suddenly find themselves stripped of an hour here, and hour there-even fifteen minutes in some cases!
No-one has yet attempted to evaluate the cost to government of unemployment payments to those rendered jobless, those needing to be re-housed, those rendered bankrupt, those needed financial assistance to enable payment of council taxes, those placed in temporary accommodation whilst a council house/flat is found for them, the rents paid for by government as unemployed hospitality sector workers fail to find alternative employment-I don’t think anyone would dare guess at the total figure of this alone! The ‘war whooping’ anti smoker brigade have not made it general knowledge that income tax will have to rise considerably to accommodate the £11bn yearly income from lost tobacco taxes if smoking is eradicated. Marvellous, a totally smoke free country, the workforce paying an extra £25p-30p for the pleasure of smoke free, and a once extremely popular industry brought to its knees!
And what has all this achieved? Sadly, nothing! It takes a brave man to hold his hands up and say he was wrong-there are very few brave men/women in our Parliament, so this poorly implemented ban will, eventually, financially cripple our country. The rabid anti tobacco lunatics cannot see that far ahead, they can only see the next bus stop or doorway being added to the long list requiring (in their warped opinions) “No Smoking” signs. The government said it would give rural communities powers to save local pubs. They urgently need CHOICE!
Government thinks it has to rely on people of a certain educational standard to produce reports, but these people often fail to be in touch with reality, as the “Evidenced Review” conclusively proves. Outside organisations such as the Taxpayers Alliance, Freedom2Choose, etc that have their feet firmly planted on the ground are in a far better position to deliver a true evaluation of what effect a law is having on the country. After all, the author (Linda Bauld) doggedly states “...the introduction of smokefree legislation has a net positive effect on businesses” when in actual fact, nothing could be further from the truth!
There is only one power needed-the power of choice!
Oasis- Cigarettes & Alcohol