10 Years On – What We Know

I’ve been dreading this day all year.

10 years on from the ban on smoking in public and private places, the media are (no doubt on Gov instructions) bigging up the number of lives allegedly saved by this undemocratic action.

I’ve long had a major gripe about this as can be seen by my letter of 30th April 2007 which was shortlisted for publication in the Sunday Times. It can be read here.

As the new buzz phrase from the BEEB would have it this is “What we know”:

  1. Thousands of pubs have closed down with the loss of tens of thousands of jobs and most in my hometown of Exeter have been converted into Luxury Student Accommodation, while scores of homeless litter the streets.
  2. The people who said that they would be going to the pub once they no longer had to put up with the filthy smokers are not going to the pub. They are going to the cafe bar which is JD Wetherspoon (or Witherspoons as my less articulate friends would have it).
  3. If Gov figures are to be believed, hundreds of thousands of lives have been saved by the ban, which might go some way to explaining why the NHS is crumbling around us; never mind the lack of funding and immigration. Hundreds of thousands of more people now dying a slower death from COPD induced smoking now need inhalers and other medication, costing the nation millions of pounds. Wouldn’t it have been preferable if these miscreants like myself had just died a natural death of their habit?
  4. Last but not least is the fact that the bastards under Blair who instigated this filthy ban under the orders of the EU did not ban it in The House Of Commons or their Private London Clubs. Is this what they call democracy?

This is what I know, and I can tell you I’m as pissed off today as I was 10 years ago……..

Over and OUT!!!!!!

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Use It Or Lose It!

Dear Editor,

As someone who has more than a passing interest in the fortunes of UK publicans, I would like to speak on their behalf concerning the fact that duty on alcohol will rise by 8 per cent on Monday December 1st.

On hearing the Pre Budget Report, I thought that the government might have thrown a lifeline to hard pushed licensees by reducing VAT by 2.5%, but of course this is largely offset by the aforementioned increase in duty. According to reports published in the wake of this increase, a local pub will close every day for the next two years as a result of tax hikes hidden in Gordon Brown's recession rescue package.

Of course one could argue that perhaps if the pub industry had done more to protest against the smoking ban then the smokers would not have left the pubs in their droves as many have done. Then the pubs could at least have absorbed these tax rises. I have in the past found it difficult to sympathise with publicans for this exact reason. It is a fact that cheap supermarket beer, and the fact that nobody wants to stand in the freezing cold to smoke make a very strong case for deserting your local pub.

However, with recession looming, and January the worst month of the year for the licensed trade, we will surely see even more traditional pubs closing, especially those who do not enjoy the freedom to buy their stock from the cheapest supplier as a result of being tied to their leasing company.

As I see it, in a few years time the only places that will remain open are likely to be the large, faceless pub chains such as J.D Wetherspoon, who have the ability to buy and sell their stock in bulk. Of course there will always be a place in the market for such establishments, but for many drinkers, myself included, they are nothing more than glorified coffee houses.

I would therefore urge your readers to consider these points when choosing where to spend their hard earned cash during the festive season and beyond. If you want to keep the UK pub tradition alive, it's a case of "use it or lose it".

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