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10 years since Welsh smoking ban

By Georgina Townshend , 02-Apr-2017
Last updated on 03-Apr-2017 at 10:03 GMT2017-04-03T10:03:58Z

Smoking ban: Welsh pubs have been smoke free for 10 years
Smoking ban: Welsh pubs have been smoke free for 10 years

Ten-years-ago publicans in Wales were exceptionally nervous and uncertain about their future as the smoking ban came into force on April 2 2007.

Trade was predicted to dip, and advice given to licensees in order to survive the storm included “improve your standards”, “keep customers occupied”, and “increase your range of soft drinks”.

In the lead up, Welsh publicans felt planning authorities had been “un-cooperative and had let pubs down ” in preparing for the ban – which came into force three months earlier than England.

Welsh pubs close to the border were particularly concerned about their trade, The Morning Advertiser reported at the time, with the threat of customers hopping over to England.

Commenting on the 10 year anniversary  Brigid Simmonds from the BBPA said: There is no doubt that the smoking ban hit the pub trade hard and contributed to pub closures, particularly those that were very much drinks, rather than food, led.

“But many pubs have used the opportunity to adapt, expanding their food offering - pubs now serve more than a billion meals a year, or investing in improving their range of available coffees”.

Pubs were “expected to struggle”

At the time, most pubs in Wales felt like they did not have enough time to prepare, with several delayed planning permissions for outdoor areas.

In preparation for the ban, SA Brain, the Welsh brewer and pub company, had cleaned and “sparkled” its pubs, but still “expected to have pubs that struggled”.

The picture wasn’t much better a year after the ban , with some pubs in parts of Wales considering closing their doors on week nights as they continued to struggle.

John Price, secretary of the Wales LVA and licensee of the bust Hotel in Blaenclydach said at the time it had “damaged the trade beyond repair”.

However, a food-led pub in Swansea claimed the ban had helped boost business.

One almost immediate positive of the order, however, was that just months after it came into effect , it had led to a 20% increase in people wanting to quit the habit, according to Stop Smoking Wales in December 2007.

Looking to the future

Simmonds continued: "Given the ban’s adverse impact on pub sales overall, we want to see more focus on cutting red tape and regulation for pubs, and in particular taxes.

“Pubs are still facing disproportionately high business rates, despite some help in the Budget, but this was dwarfed by the 3.9% increase in beer duty which will cost the industry £130 million. 

“Exiting the EU and the Repeal Bill offers opportunities to help pubs further and we will be working with the Government to identify deregulatory measures to help our sector.