Pub operators wait for air to clear after smoking ban

12 July 2007 by
Pub operators wait for air to clear after smoking ban

Life after the smoking ban has begun in earnest, but the majority of pub operators are waiting for the smoke to clear before revealing whether it has had an adverse or beneficial effect on business.

The ban on lighting up in enclosed public spaces became law in England on 1 July, as the country caught up with the rest of the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

Greene King was the first of the major operators to reveal results after the introduction, and while its most recent trading figures were for the period ending 29 April, chief executive Rooney Anand did say its experience with the smoking ban in Scotland had stood it in good stead to broaden the appeal of its pubs in England.

The operator polled 5,000 customers in 500 pubs on 1 July, and about 67% said they thought the pubs were better for being smoke-free, while 48% said they would visit more often. It added that 82% of licensees polled thought the ban was a good thing, both for the working environment and for trade, with 75% happy that their workplace is now free of smoke.

A spokeswoman for Mitchells & Butlers said both the operator and the wider industry had been preparing for life after the smoking ban for quite some time, irrespective of its start date.

"The past 10 years have seen the most dramatic changes in the company, and what has been driving that is the growth in the eating-out market. We have the brands in our business to appeal to a broader range of customers," she said. "We were one of the companies that campaigned for a full ban when it was first mooted. Anything less would be such a backward step."

A spokeswoman for Marston's said it was too early to give any concrete information on the impact of the ban.

Scotland smoking ban shows no affect on number of licensed premises >>

Landlords defy English smoking ban >>

More people will eat out after England smoking ban >>

Read more news and analysis on the smoking ban here >>

By Christopher Walton

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