Health Minister Gillian Merron MP is claiming that ‘the smoking ban has not caused pubs to close’.1
Over fifty pubs and clubs are closing on a weekly basis with many reporting the smoking ban as a reason, yet the Health Minister denies that the smoking ban has had any influence on these closures. This, despite Chancellor Alistair Darling’s statement2 in December 2008 admitting that the ban was forcing pubs out of business, and despite admissions that rate reductions have been implemented to ease the plight of pubs and clubs since the smoking ban was introduced.
Martin Dockrell, director of anti-smoking organization ASH has also confirmed that the smoking ban has forced 50% of pub closures.3
Phil Johnson, Chairman of Freedom2Choose, the nation’s leading pro-choice organisation says, "This is a totally inaccurate statement from Ms Merron in the government lead up to the smoking ban review later this year. They are unable to admit that the implementation of this draconian ban was poorly thought out and would still be bleating about the ban being a complete success, even if every pub and club in the country shut down."
He further comments, "We are witnessing the biggest social engineering programme (disguised as healthism) ever seen in this country. Despite numerous surveys to the contrary, this government still purports figures of 80% of people in favour of the ban which is crippling our hospitality industry. A recent survey of the people who matter (publicans etc) show that 82% now demand choice, after all it is their businesses that are suffering."
Speaking on behalf of the WMCIU, Phil Johnson also states, "It is inconceivable that private members’ clubs, the very backbone of the working classes, should not be availed the Freedom2Choose for themselves. These clubs have the ability to operate smoking rooms and non smoking rooms, yet they are suffering huge downturns in trade as a result.”
“There has been a significant reduction in the amount of Labour support in the areas once regarded as 'hardcore' Labour voters because of this restrictive and destructive ban. Such a draconian measure was unwarranted, when there were so many suitable alternatives available."
Spokesperson: Phil Johnson: 07773 926818
F2C Press Office