Page last updated at 09:36 GMT, Tuesday, 1 July 2008 10:36 UK

Pubs 'want to overturn' smoke ban

The survey found that 78% of drinkers supported the smoking ban

Up to 75% of London pub landlords want England's smoking ban overturned, saying they have lost business, a survey has found.

But a year after the ban came into force seven-out-of-10 Londoners feel smoke-free pubs are nicer to visit.

Pub trade newspaper, the Morning Advertiser, questioned 2,000 consumers and 300 licensees for the UK survey.

Editor Andrew Pring said there were "record" pub closures despite "great" improvements in quality and service.

The survey found 78% of drinkers were pleased about the smoking ban and 71% felt pubs were better places to visit as a result.

They are using the pub to go to enjoy food, and they are going a lot more with their family
Simon Emeny, Fuller's managing director

However 77% of licensees said they had lost trade as a result of the ban, and 73% said they would overturn it if they could.

Mr Pring said: "It is great to hear that consumers now prefer the pub environment and clearly most landlords have really raised their game.

"But we have seen record pub closures despite the great strides made to improve quality and service to help counter the effect of the ban because people cannot afford to visit the pub as often."

Licensees said their businesses had also been hit by the credit crunch and the rising price of drinks over the past year.

Mr Pring urged the government to abandon its "inflation-busting" increases in alcohol duty.

However Simon Emeny, managing director of pub firm Fullers, said business had "stayed strong" as customers were "changing their habits".

"They (customers) are using the pub to go to enjoy food, and they are going a lot more with their family," he said.

Earlier this year the British Beer and Pub Association found that one in 50 London pubs closed between July and December 2007.

Pubs close in economic downturn
22 Apr 08 |  London

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