Food-led smoking ban will not work claims M&B

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Related tags: Smoking ban

Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) claims a trial smoking ban at its pubs in Grimsby has illustrated the disastrous consequences that will arise if...

Mitchells & Butlers (M&B) claims a trial smoking ban at its pubs in Grimsby has illustrated the disastrous consequences that will arise if the government persists with its food-led proposals.

The six-month experiment, which has seen smoking banned throughout the group's dozen pubs in the Lincolnshire town, began in June.

It is believed that a number of the pubs participating in the trial were badly hit, with customers opting to visit rival pubs where smoking was allowed.

M&B chief executive Tim Clarke said the results have been "entirely predictable".

Pubs in well-off areas of the town with a significant food offer had performed well, Mr Clarke said, while those in poorer districts with a lower food take had "suffered quite a lot".

Pubs where food contributed to less than 10 per cent of sales would end up removing it, he predicted.

While M&B refused to give precise details, the Grimsby experiment has shown the damage that a food-led ban could cause to the pub trade, Mr Clarke said.

The industry's voluntary approach had to be the way forward, he added, and needed to be backed by legislation.

"Thousands of community pubs are being given an incentive to remove food from their offer," he said.

M&B is the latest pub group to announce that a smoking ban trial has hit sales.

JD Wetherspoon aims to have around 50 non-smoking pubs in place by Christmas but earlier this year reported a loss of bar trade in those pubs where a ban had already been introduced, offset by a gradual increase in food sales.

At the Labour Party Conference in Brighton this week a fringe meeting organised by anti-smoking group ASH heard Caroline Flint MP, the minister for public health, indicate that the government still supported the idea of restrictions in pubs, but not an all-out ban.

Related topics: Mitchells & Butlers

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