Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Smoking ban hits Weatherspoon profits

Smoking bans exist across much of Europe

The smoking ban implemented in the UK in July 2007 has continued to affect takings in Britain’s pubs. JD Weatherspoon is the latest to say they’ve seen a drop in profits besides having earlier claimed the ban was unlikely to affect trade. Wetherspoon said that it remained confident that the smoking ban would benefit the pub trade in the long-term, but "the short-term effect of a decline in bar sales means that we continue to remain cautious regarding the outlook for this financial year".
Over the last 4 months the pub chain, which has 683 outlets, saw a 3.2% drop in sales compared to the same period the previous year [BBC]. Last October the company said the first four months of the ban had only seen a 1% drop in sales [BBC].

The loss in profits isn’t exclusive to the UK. Bars in France are already seeing their custom fall following the ban which came into force on 1st January. And in Beijing where authorities are attempting to impose a limited ban by the time of the Olympics there are signs of how unwelcome a ban there would be [Guardian]. The China Daily this week reported that after a smoking ban was enforced at one restaurant chain trade dropped dramatically. Sales fell by 20% at the Meizhou Dongpo, Beijing’s first smoke-free restaurant. China has over 350 million smokers, mostly men, accounting for a quarter of the entire population.
Germany is the latest to see a smoking ban. But it hasn’t come without a fight from Germany’s smokers who account for over a third of the population. Berlin has seen the country’s first ‘smoking rage’ victim and there is widespread flouting of the new laws. The smoking bans are often cited as being implemented by ‘health fascists’, but in Germany this is more than a little closer to home. Sixty seven years ago the Nazis implemented a ban on smoking in Germany. Even some of the most advanced research into the links between tobacco consumption and lung cancer was carried out under the Nazis.
Under the supervision of the Institute for Tobacco Hazards Research, the ban was imposed in every public building and public space, including air-raid shelters, with Hitler even personally intervening in 1944 to ensure it was extended to trains and buses in order to protect young female conductors. It was even pointed out that Hitler, Mussolini and Franco were all non-smokers, while the 'evil enemies' - Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin - all enjoyed a tobacco fix [Guardian].

While many Germans are forced out into the cold, others are crossing the border to Poland where a ban on smoking is yet to be made law. In the London Pub in Slubice, across the river from Frankfurt an der Oder, a group of middle-aged Germans are swigging and puffing to their hearts' content. 'It's just like in the old days,' says Dieter Neubauer, who strolled over the border after work.
Turkey has recently passed new anti-smoking laws [BBC] but there is much opposition with 40% of the population being smokers. The trend is likely to continue leaving many more smokers in the cold or remaining at home [Smoke bans worldwide / Smoking bans by country / European bans].

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