Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Scottish smoking ban – I knew I was right

The Scottish Licensed Traders Association has said that its members report a 10 per cent reduction in alcohol sales north of the border since the smoking ban came into force. The story is reported here on the BBC website. It has been amended since this morning and in its earlier version mentioned that smaller pubs were suffering more than the large chains.

This makes my comments on this blog back in January seem remarkably prescient :
...the problem will be of accelerating the decline of rural village pubs and urban backstreet locals. The large vertical-drinking emporia will cope with a smoking ban and the young people who visit them will feel little embarrassment about standing around outside having a fag.

Of course no amount of squealing from ‘the trade’, nor clear evidence of loss of business would lead to a re-think of the smoking ban. In the article mentioned above, Scottish Health Minister Andy Kerr, rebutted the claims of the SLTA by saying that he hasn’t met a single person who wants the ban rescinded.

This isn’t quite the point. The non-smoking majority won’t demand smoky pubs and most smokers will realise the cause is lost. Of course some of the more puritanical advocates of a ban will probably think it no bad thing if pubs go out of business too, thus reducing alcohol abuse. There will also be those who supported the ban, but who will complain about the loss of a vital community resource if more local village pubs go out of business. They will never for a minute pause to think the latter unwelcome development is the unintended result of their own handiwork.

1 comment:

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