Sales in pubs since the implementation of the smoking ban have slumped 7.3% with nearly three-quarters of smokers spending less time in the pub, according to a survey of publicans.
The survey of 2,708 members of the British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) and the Federation of Licensed Victuallers' Associations (FLVA) found that 58% of licensees had seen smokers visit less since the introduction of the ban in England on 1 July.
The vast majority of licensees (89%) are now calling for there to be rate relief for those that have lost business, said Tony Payne, chief executive of the FLVA.
"Traditional working men's pubs have been hit hard, especially those with no room to accommodate smokers outside," Payne said. "We accept the ban as a public health measure but it has come at a heavy cost for our pubs, and the Government should recognise this and compensate us."
John McNamara, BII chief executive, said: "We made a massive effort to advise our members how to innovate to beat the ban and many pubs that sell a lot of food, and have invested, have prospered.
"Sadly these have been outweighed by the far greater number of more traditional pubs who rely more on drink and smokers."
Overall drinks sales fell 7.4% between 1 July and 22 October, while gambling machine revenues fell 9.3%. Food sales rose slightly, up 0.6%, but only 14.9% of licensees reported a rise in business compared with 58.6% who recorded a loss.
A sample of feedback from licensees
•Ms Eyles, Daventry: "We have tried to introduce weekly food-themed evenings but there simply have not been the people in to support it"
•Irene Nuttall, Preston: "I am still waiting for the do-gooders who don't smoke to come in"
•T Gare, Eastbourne: "I have just lost my pub to the ban thanks to the Government. It cost me £95,000"
By Christopher Walton
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