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We keep hearing claims from the antismoking lobby that the licensed trade has “accepted” the smoking ban and “moved on”. But, according to a recent poll in the Morning Advertiser, there continues to be a very strong belief that it has damaged the business of pubs and needs to be amended, if not completely scrapped. 64% of respondents believed that the ban had been terrible or bad for business, with 76% - more than three quarters - saying a separate smoking room should be allowed. Even three years later, 49% believed that the ban should be completely scrapped, with, presumably, a further 27% believing it needed to be relaxed to some extent.

Only 32% said the ban had encouraged a new type of customer into outlets, and there was no comment as to whether those outnumbered or even made up for those who had been deterred. On the flip side, 23% said the ban had a neutral effect, 10% a good effect and 3% that it had an excellent effect on trade. One can only imagine those are poncy dining pubs where clearing out the riff-raff is seen as a desirable objective.

It is very clear from this survey that, despite the deluded, ostrich-like views of ban apologists, this continues to be a live issue for the trade and is not going to go away any day soon.