Pub trade unity against no-smoking law cracks.

Wednesday 07 April 2004

ASH News Release:   For immediate release:   Wednesday 7th April 2004




The British pub trade’s united front against ending smoking in the workplace (including pubs and restaurants) cracked today, as Wetherspoons’ founder Tim Martin came out in favour of national legislation on the issue.


Wetherspoons is one of the largest pub chains in the UK, with over 600 pubs. Large pub chains have generally resisted any legal moves to end smoking in hospitality venues, fearing a loss in trade. In fact, the best economic evidence shows that the effect of stop smoking laws on trade is either neutral or positive. For example, the tax take from the New York hospitality industry increased in the six months after smoking was banned (see


However, national pub chains are particularly worried by the Labour Government’s recent decision to consult on giving Councils powers to introduce smoking restrictions in their local areas. If action on smoking in the workplace is coming, the more progressive sections of the industry, including Wetherspoons, would prefer national legislation, with time given to the industry to make adjustments and retain customers.


In the past, the tobacco control lobby has accused the pub trade of acting as surrogates for the tobacco industry in resisting action on smoking in the workplace. Ending workplace smoking has been repeatedly identified (for example by Derek Wanless in his recent report for the Government) as likely to be the simplest, cheapest and most effective way of cutting smoking prevalence rates as well reducing the health risk to non-smokers of secondhand smoke.


Deborah Arnott, Director of the tobacco control pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said:


“Tim Martin’s statement is timely and important. Wetherspoons is one of the most progressive chains in the pub industry. Mr Martin has realised that the pub trade’s previous tactics of obfuscation, opposition and delay have to end. Doing nothing is no longer an option. Smoking in the workplace – including bars and restaurants – is coming to an end, sooner rather than later. The only question is how to achieve this result, and how to introduce new legislation in a way that both protects public health and helps the hospitality trade plan for the future.”

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Contact: Deborah Arnott 020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available