According to research released today by Market Force Information, 22.4 per cent of Brits say they now visit the pub more often as a direct result of the ban, with 70 per cent of parents more likely to take their children to the pub than they were prior to 2007.
Tim Ogle, chief executive for Europe at Market Force, said: “Publicans have been hit by the economic downturn so it’s encouraging to see that despite the negative reaction to the smoking ban five years ago, it has had a positive impact on the sector.
“Publicans do need to remain mindful of the positioning of their smoking areas as our research revealed that 37.4 per cent of potential customers actively avoid pubs with crowds of people smoking near the entrance.
“That equates to a lot of lost business and the industry needs to be sensitive to these concerns and ensure they continue to deliver an inclusive and welcoming service to all customers.”
When the ban was introduced in 2007, the pub industry spoke out with its concerns about the potential negative impact it would have on business.
From a health perspective, the smoking ban has been good news; Market Force’s research identified that two out of three smokers confirmed they had attempted to give up smoking and half of those have been successful.
Morning Advertiser survey
But from the licensees perspective, an exclusive survey conducted by BigHospitality’s sister title the Publican’s Morning Advertiser readership earlier this week has revealed that almost seven out of 10 want the current legislation amended, to allow for separate smoking rooms in pubs, while six out of 10 felt there should be designated smoking and non-smoking bars.
MPs from the three main parties hosted a reception at The House of Commons last year, to gain support for a campaign to make these amendments, but nothing has yet come of it.
The Morning Advertiser survey revealed that there was, however, less appetite for a full repeal of the smoking ban; just four in 10 of the survey’s respondents agreed it should be scrapped.
A Department of Health spokesperson told the publication that there were no plans to review the legislation.
Nick Bish, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, also warned that any criticisms of the ban can in fact be a double-edged sword for licensees.
“We need to be careful what we wish for,” he said. “Starting a debate on smoking rooms does not mean it will end there and would inevitably re-open discussions about restrictions in beer gardens, and no-smoking anywhere near the premises. That would turn customers off and the trade away.”
As Ogle from Market Force concluded: “We’re still facing tough economic conditions and to stay ahead of the game pubs need to listen to what customers want. Feedback is crucial and implementing the changes from this feedback is imperative.
“It’s never too late; if publicans start to pay attention and respond to customers’ needs now, they will be sure to reap the benefits for many years to come.”
Statistics from the survey
- 72.9% - The proportion of survey respondents that think that the smoking ban has not benefited pubs in any way
- 48.8% - The amount of licensees that believe the smoking ban has had a 'significant impact' on the pub industry
- 48.2% - The proportion of respondents who have installed a dedicated smoking shelter
- 57.2% - The number of publicans that have received noise complaints from local residents about people smoking outside
- £2,000 - The amount the majority of respondents spent on a smoking shelter project
A full analysis of the survey results will appear in the 5 July issue of the Publicans Morning Advertiser.