D-Day for Wales as smoking ban looms

By Gareth Iacobucci

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Wales

Licensees in Wales are bracing themselves for a tough time as the smoking ban kicks in from 6am on Monday, April 2. Welsh pubs close to the border...

Licensees in Wales are bracing themselves for a tough time as the smoking ban kicks in from 6am on Monday, April 2.

Welsh pubs close to the border are particularly concerned about their trade, fearing customers will desert them in favour of pubs in England. Others claim they have not had time to prepare their outside areas.

Andy Jones, licensee of the Anchor in Saltney, Flintshire, is concerned about the "uneven playing field" claiming he will lose business because he is located on the border.

He fears he will lose trade to the City Arms, just yards down the road in England, which will avoid the ban until July 1. He said: "95 per cent of our customers smoke. Some have said they'll stop here and try and give up, but it's a case of suck it and see, really. It's totally unfair. We should have had the same date as England."

John Price, secretary of Licensed Victuallers Wales and licensee of the Bush Hotel in Blaenclydach, also argues pubs close to the border have the most to lose. "People will walk that extra few yards to be able to smoke, and it's going to hit them the hardest," he said.

He added that delays in planning permission for outdoor areas meant that licensees across Wales were simply not ready, and would suffer as a result. "It's going to hurt us, and we should have delayed things the same as England," he said.

"The Welsh Assembly told us to go ahead and erect our outdoor areas, but we've not had enough time to prepare. It will take us 17 to 19 weeks to be up and running with the time it takes to get planning permission. I think we're going to have a lot of problems."

SA Brain, the Welsh brewer and pub company, has cleaned and "sparkled" its pubs in preparation for the ban, and has been ensuring it has all the solutions and training organised for its venues and staff.

Despite implementing these measures, Philip Lay, Brains' retail director, said it was "expecting to have pubs that struggle", and acknowledged that: "there is a concern in the short-term that people may drift over the border".

Related topics: Legislation

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