New research claims shock proof that the smoking ban has been the main cause of pub closures in the UK.
CGA data has been manipulated by CR Consulting to reveal a striking correlation in the rate of closures in
England, Scotland and Wales following the smoking bans in each country.
Previously, the different start times of the ban have obscured the similarity of the decline across Britain, causing commentators to look to other reasons for pubs closing.
Now, the report says "the smoking ban is demonstrably the most significant cause of pub closures".
"While there is significant variation in the trajectories of the pub estates before the ban there is an almost total correlation between the three GB lines after the ban. This indicates that they are affected by a strong common factor — the smoking ban.
"The correlation is in fact so close that the trend line for the three countries is identical."
The report predicts pub numbers will continue to fall, with another 1,700 to close in England before the fourth anniversary of the ban in July 2011.
Using CGA's widely-accepted statistics for the net figure of pubs closing, the common trajectory shows closures accelerating after the first year of the ban in each country — from between 0.5% and 1.2% in the first year to between 3.7% and 4.4% in the second year.
Scotland lost a further 3.7% of its estate in the third year.
CR Consulting blames the decline on the loss of sociability in pubs where smoking has been banned.
"With smokers being moved outside, the price premium [in pubs] can no longer be justified [by drinkers] so more people drink at home," it maintains.
"This has a cumulative effect — as fewer people use the pub it becomes less of a social draw."