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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 March 2007, 11:55 GMT
Pubs 'lost staff' after smoke ban
Man serving beer to drinkers at a bar
Only 3% of the pubs polled reported taking on extra employees
A third of Scottish pubs have reported laying off staff due to the smoking ban, a survey of landlords claims.

However, the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, which polled 530 pubs, could not give exact job loss numbers.

With the first anniversary of the ban approaching, the survey suggested that drink sales remained 11% below pre-ban levels and food sales were down 3%.

Health Minister Andy Kerr said the poll was limited and there was no evidence that job losses were linked to the ban.

Many licensees reported a drop in how often people go to the pub, with 56% noting fewer visits by regulars.

About one-third of pub bosses also complained of fewer visits from new customers.

The SLTA sent surveys to all its 1,500 members but only about one-third responded.

The executive were so keen to jump on the Irish bandwagon that they didn't want to listen to any advice
Paul Waterson
SLTA

Only 3% of those licensed premises reported taking on extra employees since the ban was introduced on 26 March last year, the survey revealed.

Paul Waterson, SLTA chief executive, said the industry had suffered "collateral damage" in a war between the Scottish Executive and the tobacco industry.

"We were never properly and fairly consulted on the ban and our warnings were ignored - now we have to live with the consequences of losing loyal workers and pubs being under threat," he said.

"What really concerned us is that national and local government have been totally unhelpful.

"We were given the regulations on how to set up smoking facilities absurdly late, and now four in five of our members find their local authorities no help at all as they try to create covered outside areas to enable their businesses to survive."

The poll found that 42% of landlords had invested more in outdoor facilities, but 81% said their local council had been unhelpful or a hindrance.

Health Minister Andy Kerr
The health minister said people in Scotland support the ban

"This whole sorry episode was completely avoidable but the executive were so keen to jump on the Irish bandwagon that they didn't want to listen to any advice," Mr Waterson said.

He said the executive's "deafening silence" over tobacco sales and the number of people quitting smoking indicated that the ban had hit the industry rather than the intended target.

Health Minister Andy Kerr said: "The tobacco industry say that sales are down 2-3%.

"Research suggests an up to 40% increase in the number people contacting smoking cessation services in the three months prior to the ban.

"I have not met a single person who wants to turn the clock back and reintroduce smoking in restaurants and pubs - indeed feedback to me has been quite the opposite."

He said international evidence indicated that the ban would be good for Scotland's economy.

Wales will go smoke-free on 2 April, Northern Ireland on 30 April and England on 1 July.




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