Thursday 17 October 2019

Pubs hit hard by the smoking ban - new study

Taken from Closing Time

There's a nice study in Health Policy looking at the impact of the English smoking ban on alcohol sales. It is of particular interest because it provides data for smokers and nonsmokers in the on-trade and off-trade.

The results will come as no surprise to anyone who has watched the collapse of pub industry since 2007.

The data show that before the smoking ban, smokers spent nearly twice as much money in pubs as nonsmokers - and nearly 50 per cent more on alcohol overall.

After the ban, average weekly expenditure in pubs by smoking households fell by 45 per cent, from £10.06 to £5.68.

Was this made up for by nonsmokers flocking to smoke-free pubs, as anti-smoking campaigners - and the useful idiots at CAMRA - promised? Not a bit of it. Expenditure by nonsmoking households also fell, from £5.70 to £4.42 a week.

Spending on alcohol from the off-trade remained pretty similar for both groups.

The study's author, Rob Pryce, does a separate analysis comparing the post-ban period with the two years before the ban (rather than six years). The results are similar for smokers, but the decline in spend by nonsmokers is smaller.

Click to enlarge

Whichever way you look at it, the evidence is clear: pubs' best customers spent a lot less in them after they were banned from smoking. Who'd have thought?

... smoking households significantly reduced their on-premise expenditure following the smoking ban, and non-smoking households did not significantly change their expenditure...

Apologists for the smoking ban sometimes claim that it cannot have done so much damage to pubs because smokers were in the minority. It is true that only 21 per cent of UK adults were smokers when the ban came in, but they were spending a lot more money in pubs. As anyone who remembers those halcyon days will recall, there were plenty of pubs where at least half the regulars were smokers. In some pubs, it could be 80 per cent.

The idea that nonsmokers would make up for this lost business was always a cynical fantasy. Most nonsmokers didn't care about secondhand smoke and most of those who did were never going to become regular pubgoers anyway.

This study only confirms the bleeding obvious, but it is still nice to have some firm figures.

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