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Sunday 3 February 2013

Hey, Sheila! Here's the Evidence!

The next time that Sheila Duffy of ASH Scotland opens her gob to claim that there is no evidence that the smoking ban in Scotland has had any effect on pub closures, do remember to point her to this article in the Edinburgh Evening News (via
Pub closure blamed on rising prices and smoking ban
The once-thriving social hub has fallen victim to the recession with a dwindling customer base being blamed on rising brewery prices and the smoking ban.
“I think the nail in the coffin for us has been the smoking ban. It’s ok if you’re a place downtown with a fancy smoking shelter but we can’t have that here.”
“The traditional pubs in particular have never really recovered after the smoking ban. Almost 80 per cent of their three to five days a week drinkers would smoke.

“When they told us the pub would be full of non-smokers it was nonsense then and it still is.”

I think that's pretty clear evidence, coming directly from the pub's owner and its customers.  Yes, the duty escalator has increased the cost of a pint, but losing 80% of your customers to the smoking ban is the real culprit here. Not that Sheila Duffy would admit it.  Back in 2010, Duffy said:
[T]here was no evidence that the smoking ban was responsible for an increase in the closure of pubs in Scotland, but said there was plenty of evidence that Scotland was a healthier nation for having introduced smoke-free public places.
There is of course plenty of evidence that the smoking ban has destroyed the livelihoods of thousands of pub owners (as well as restaurateurs) and the social lives of millions throughout Britain.  It's affected my life greatly. I used to go out at least once per week, often up to three times in a week.  Now, since the smoking ban in England, I go out only a few times per year.  Because, yes, I'd rather stay home where I can smoke than to be forced to stand outside in shite weather. 

The cost of a pint is not really an issue for me.  I truly don't mind spending a little extra in order to socialise with mates in a pub or a restaurant.  If British pubs simply disregarded the smoking ban during opening hours, like businesses do in so many other European countries, then spending a few extra pence for a beer in the name of freedom and liberty for adults would be more than worth it.

Of course I know it's really not as a simple as that for pub owners.  There's the anti-smoking Nazi enforcers to contend with, all of them part of the New Inquisition. It matters not at all if you are smoker -- they'll target anyone who fails to conform.  So we would need a workable plan to deal with those enforcers, which ultimately means simultaneously dealing with our governments, both local and national.  I like the idea of Frank Davis's army.  I don't think we need 10 million.  A few hundred-thousand will do fine, but even just 10,000 could make a real difference initially.  But that's a tale for another day...

Sheila Duffy, Chief Executive of ASH Scotland
Will someone please tell this woman to shut the fuck up?

H/T: J Johnson