Smoking Ban: Five years on BBPA rejects calls for smoking rooms, what next for campaigners?

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

To mark five years since the implementation of the ban on smoking in pubs and bars in England, BigHospitality has produced a podcast report investigating the current situation and possible future options for campaigners and publicans still hoping to change the law.

In the lead up to 1 July 2007, pub and bar owners were told to expect an increase of footfall in customers who had been put off their local boozer because of the smoke and drinkers who would want a meal with their pint.

Moved on

Speaking to BigHospitality, Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said pubs now served a billion meals in pubs - more food than is served in restaurants in the UK. 

Simmonds also said the industry had 'moved on hugely' since the ban but admitted many pubs, especially wet-led community venues, were still struggling. However Simmonds said the BBPA would not be supporting calls for an introduction of smoking rooms.

Significant impact

The consensus of a survey of licensees conducted by BigHospitality's sister publication The Publican's Morning Advertiser​ (PMA) was certainly that the ban was still hitting the industry. Less than 21 per cent of those asked said the ban had benefited pubs and more than two thirds said the legislation had significant or some impact on the trade.

Among those surveyed many said they had experienced a decline in gaming machine use and an increase in noise and litter complaints and customers unhappy about smokers gathering just outside pubs.

Paul Blackmun from The Bricklayer's Arms in Midhurst, West Sussex, revealed in the BigHospitality podcast that he had achieved a rent reduction for his pub and had to lay-off staff recently because he was still struggling due to the ban.

Smoking rooms

Robert Feal-Martinez, co-founder of Freedom to Choose and the owner of The Carpenters Arms motel in Swindon, told BigHospitality he believed the Government was aware of the benefits the introduction of smoking rooms would have on pubs.

Several licensees, including Wendy Byworth of The Imperial in Crawley, believe owners should be given the choice of whether their bar is a designated smoking pub or not.

In the PMA survey a complete lifting of the ban was a less popular option although it was still supported by 30 per cent. 

Check out the full audio investigation by listening to the podcast above and let us know your response by leaving us a comment on this page or joining the discussion with other industry experts on LinkedIn​.

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