Four years on – More smokers support than oppose smokefree law. No evidence of adverse impact on hospitality trade

Wednesday 29 June 2011

On the fourth anniversary of England’s smokefree law, new figures show that public support for the measure remains high with 78% of the population in favour of the law. Significantly, almost half of all smokers (47%) support the law. [1] The survey complements an independent Government-commissioned review of the impact of the smokefree law which found no significant decrease in the number of people visiting pubs or restaurants before or after the legislation. [2]

These findings stand in stark contrast to the claims made by the ‘Save Our Pubs’ campaign – a tobacco industry funded font group – that the smokefree law is causing pubs to close. The real agenda behind this campaign is to amend the law to allow smoking in pubs [3]

However, the pro-tobacco lobby’s claims that the smoking ban has led to pub closures are unfounded. In 2007, the year England went smokefree, the number of licensed premises for “on sales” of alcohol actually increased by 5% [4] and there has been a net increase in the number of people reporting going to pubs since the smokefree law came into effect. [5]

Commenting on the findings, Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of ASH, said:

“Pubs, like all small businesses have been hard hit by the recession. But the tobacco lobby group assertion that thousands of pubs in England and Wales are under threat of closure due to the smoking ban does not stand up to scrutiny. The British public are enjoying the benefits of smokefree drinking and dining and there is little appetite for a return to the bad old days of smoky pubs.”

[1] 1 July 2011 marks the 4th anniversary of the implementation of the smoke free law in England. According to a YouGov survey conducted earlier this year 78% of adults in England support the smokefree law compared to 13% who oppose it. Smokers who support the law outnumber those who are against it (47% for, 38% against). Most smokers see the law as good for most workers’ health (72%) good for the public’s health (59%) and good for their own health (55%).

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 10238 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 3rd to 15th March 2011 . The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all England adults (aged 18+).

[2] Bauld, L. The impact of smokefree legislation in England: evidence review. Department of Health, March 2011

[3] See: The ‘Save Our Pubs & Clubs’ campaign receives funding from Japan Tobacco International and is run by the tobacco industry lobby group, FOREST.
[4] DCMS Statistical Bulletin. Alcohol, entertainment and late night refreshment licensing, England and Wales, April 2007-March 2008. DCMS 2008 .
[5] Smoking related behaviour and attitudes 2008/09. The Information Centre for Health and Social Care. ONS, 2009.