Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

Sir,

I am writing an open letter today in an attempt to seek clarification from someone on the effects of the July 1st smoking ban on pub profits.

On September 7th, the UK's largest pub chain, JD Wetherspoon, who's flagship pub, The Imperial is a local landmark in Exeter, issued a statement which read "JD Wetherspoon has delivered record results as the UK smoking ban failed to dent profits" (Source: CatererSearch).

Just 2 months later, on November 7th, it issued a statement which stated that "it remained cautious over trading after the introduction of the smoking ban in England dented sales" (Source: Reading Evening Post).

I am naturally a little bemused by this, and would like some kind of explanation from Wetherspoon supremo, and local resident, Tim Martin as to what all this means exactly.

Would it be cynical of me to say that the first statement was written for the shareholders, while the second one is a matter of public record?

On another note, now that the winter weather is finally with us, and the social lepers who choose to smoke are herded on to the street, or designated "dying area", I wonder how local publicans are faring. To request their comments through the E&E would be a trifle unfair, as few publicans will admit to having an empty pub, but perhaps there are those who will give us an honest answer?

I await the replies from them and Mr Martin with interest.

Note: This letter was not published in the Express & Echo, no doubt down to the official denotice on any pro-smoking malarkey by HM Gov.

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The Green Fields Of England?

Dear Editor,

As the ban on smoking in enclosed public areas in England approaches, I would like to take issue with the Self-Righteous Brigade who see all smokers as potential suicide bombers.

My argument is simple:

If these people have the right to a smoke-free atmoshpere, why do I (as a non-driver) not have similar rights as a pedestrian? The two car families on their "school runs" in their 4-Wheel Drive vehicles are polluting my atmosphere on a daily basis, but this seems to be totally acceptable (come to think of it, anything that includes keeping the children happy seems to be totally acceptable, aside from teaching them good manners and respect, but that'll have to wait for another day).

I'll bypass going into depth about the apparently insignificant issue of major job losses due to pub's closing down (30% of pubs in Scotland have had to shed staff since the ban was introduced).

However, I find it hard to accept that on the 91st anniversary of the Battle Of The Somme, England has chosen to eradicate a freedom which has been enjoyed by millions for hundreds of years; especially 17 year old Willie MacBride who might just have needed that fag before having his brains blown out in the name of democracy and freedom all those years ago.

Shame on you Mr Blair and your cohorts……

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