Pubs are shunned by more than three quarters of the population because many are still failing to provide no-smoking areas, according to smoke free areas campaigner.
Robert Cole, a campaigner for no-smoking areas in pubs, said about 78 per cent of the population didn't smoke, but because the trade was failing to recognise this pubs could be losing out on up to 15 million customers as a result.
"There are 3.4 million asthma sufferers in Britain who don't want to go to the pub because of the smoke," Mr Cole said. "If you take into account these people's families and friends who would go to the pub with them then the trade is losing out on about 15 million customers a year."
The National Asthma Campaign and Warwickshire Health Authority are backing Mr Cole in his project to encourage all pubs to introduce no-smoking areas.
Campaigners are also pushing for pubs to employ a no-smoking policy at the bar as health experts have provided further damning evidence that passive smokers' lungs suffer significantly from smoke.
According to an Occupational and Environmental Medicine report, workers who were exposed to the highest levels of environmental smoke were up to three times as likely to have decreased lung function. But the trade is taking the issue more seriously.
According to The Publican's Market Report 2001, 39 per cent of licensees now have a no-smoking policy, an increase of 16 per cent in the last four years.
Smoky atmosphere number one turn-off for pub-goers (August 22, 2001)