One-fifth of customers visit pubs more frequently as a result of the 2007 smoking ban, according to a new survey of nearly 5,000 people.
Customer intelligence company Market Force Information surveyed 4,817 UK customers to see how they felt about socialising in pubs.
It found that five years on from the introduction of the smoking ban, 22.4% of respondents said they visited a pub more frequently. Of those 22.4%, 92% were non-smokers.
Meanwhile, 70% of parents are more likely to take their children to the pub with them than they were before.
Only 10.3% of those surveyed said that they were less likely to visit a pub following the ban.
Tim Ogle, Europe chief executive 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% 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."
Market Force's research also found that three-quarters of smokers feel there is still work to be done to make smoking areas comfortable. "Pub companies and publicans made significant investments when the smoking ban was introduced but our findings have shown that smokers are still looking for better smoking areas such as cover and seating. It is vital publicans listen to the needs of their smoking customers and keep their designated areas well maintained," Ogle added.
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.
By Neil Gerrard
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