Friday, 22 January 2010

Figures don't Lie - Zealots do!

In the 30 months since the most Draconian law ever was implemented in this country at the behest of the likes of ASH, the WHO & Big Pharma (who have reaped rich dividends from it) we have seen nothing but misery heaped upon the people of this once great country. I say 'once great' because that entitlement has now vanished into obscurity along with our freedoms!
The smoking ban in it's idea stage was a fair enough notion to divide smokers from objecting non smokers-though there wern't many of them until the smoke ban fever set in. But, when deliberating the implementation of the smoking ban not a thought was given to businesses, nor the smokers themselves.
Why were smokers suddenly leperised, thrown out onto the streets, cast from our hospitality sector en masse? Simple really. It is because the mass hysteria whipped up by years of carefully thought out propaganda had done its job...people now believed that SHS was more deadly than sarin gas! This has never been proven to be-and never will be.
This law suddenly created a massive divide among the people as smokers found themselves publicly ridiculed, abused, injured, even killed because of their chosen past-time. Non smokers now feel they have the right to castigate any smoker coming within 10ft of them-why? they cannot be 'infected' by SHS, it has been proven too many times to be harmless-unlike everyday vehicular toxicity-now there's a problem for governments to tackle!
Yes the smoke ban has created 'clean air' pubs & clubs-but at what cost?
More than 3,500 pubs have closed forever, including 37 unnecessary bankruptcies, 32 evicted homeless couples, 100,000 unemployed and, of course the not insignificant matter of 4 suicides by former business people unable to cope with enforced closures caused by this law. Some law!
The WMCIU, whom we strongly represent in all matters smoking, are now in dire straits as losses in bar takings are approximately £13.1m per annum. Gaming machine takings are well below that of 30 months ago & Bingo sales have fallen off the 'Richter Scale'! Clubs have resorted to 'line dancing' nights and 'Sunday market' type events to try and stave of the inevitable closures. The whole thing has got out of hand.
However, common sense is now prevailing as this ban slowly but steadily slaughters our economic structure. people do not go out to the pubs/clubs as much as they used to (nothing to do with recessions by the way-the 70's recession saw pub/club trade peak) because of the smoke ban therefore money in circulation is considerably lessened. The money that is spent on booze is finding its way to the likes of ASDA, Sainsbury'e, Morrisons etc. The first named is simply making WALMART 9American owned) richer by the can!

The WMCIU survey returned a resounding 98% in favour of CHOICE, ie, a smoking room set aside for their customers. Common sense prevailes. As Pub & Club Liaison Officer for I am appalled that the exemption for private clubs (Labour Manifesto pledge) was dismissed from mind. These clubs all have facilities to separate the two factions, why should they suffer so much hardship when the answers were already there? The primary reason of 'protecting the staff' has long since been exposed as a complete sham as most of the staff smoke themselves or are not bothered in the slightest about smokers; and the "no smoking at the bar" rule obviated any concerns they may have had.
Now we find an even wider survey that totally backs up the WMCIU survey as the Conservative Home Blog asked the question:-
"Should private clubs be allowed smoking rooms?"

A resounding YES from 73% of the respondents

Now this is not a survey for one institutuion to complete, this is a survey open to all people of this country, this is a Conservative website survey. This survey totally backs up the truth that CHOICE should have been afforded-and not only to private members clubs!

How many licensees run a one room pub?
How many licensees (if they do run the above) would be able to drop a simple 'stud wall' in and provide a connecting door?
How many licensees would welcome the chance to save their floundering businesses?

There should always have been choice for no choice was discriminatory from the outset. licensees who despised smokers could easily have put uop signs stating "This is a no smoking Establishment" and then watched as profits fell away. Those who erred on the side of caution could have easily signified "smoking & non smoking" areas within their establishment and those who know their traded too well could have simply had a sign stating "This is a smoker friendly Establishment".

What this devious government didn't tell the licensees was that 68% of regular drinkers are actually smokers! They live a more carefree lifestyle than non smokers, therefore by removing 68% of their business core what did they expect to happen? Or, were they too full of pomposity at the 'single biggest revolutionary step in health care' to even bother about that? Flint, Hewitt, Johnson all banged the drum that they had no evidence of harm to businesses but where did they actually look? Patagonia perchance? Not S Ireland or Scotland that's for sure!
30 months into the worst law ever implemented and we are in dire financial straits. people are not spending because they haven't got it to spend, they are not spending it on drinking & socialising simply because they are no longer an integral part of our social structure-they are social lepers.
Allow CHOICE and you will soon see pubs with customers in again, not pubs turned into family meal bars at pathetically reduced rates trying to turn round diners/tables at as fast a rate as possible. Me? I like 5/6 pints when I go out but can only eat one meal-with a glass of water thank you!
It is obvious that this law is wrong.
It is obvious that this law is unnecessarily killing businesses.
It is obvious that it is not saving lives as stress related heart attacks are rising due to unemployments caused.
The Conservatives will form the next government so let's ensure that 'home problems' are sorted out before we yet again try and set the world to rights!
Freedom of choice for all people-a basic human right
and figures don't lie!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

When will sanity prevail?

Written to Ewan Turney (MA) on the back of the MA snapshot survey of Pubs & Christmas-just thought I would share this with you all.

Dear Ewan
I write to you on the back of your excellent 'snapshot' survey of the festive pub situation and find myself drawn to this line..."Despite the tough outlook for the year, 66% expect to be at their pub next year.""66% expect to be at their pub next year"...which basically means that 34% do not expect to be at their pub next year! A damning indictment of what the smokeban has created-a loss of hope.

The people of this country must realise that for whatever so called 'health reasons' the smokeban was introduced, it is nothing more than a social engineering exercise. There is no concrete proof that passive smoking kills just as there is no evidence that this spiteful, restrictive and socially destructive law is saving the purported 40,000 lives per annum! Name one of either group I say.

My local pub, a happy community pub (was) welcomed the smokeban as they were sucked in by all the spin & hype surrounding the 'new clean air customers' waiting to invade. They (licensees) had shares in Punch (it is not a Punch pub by the way) which I fervently pleaded with them to sell pre ban. They are still awaiting the arrival of the 'clean air hoardes' and have seen their prized 'pension fund' drop from £12.68 per share (approximately) to a ridiculous 00.75p in the space of 30 months.

Disallusioned? Yes!
Disheartened? Absolutely!

I popped in on Monday night (4th Jan) at 8.45pm to find a brace of geriatrics donning hats, scarves & thick winter coats before trudging out to their car. On the table they left behind them 2 empty half pint glasses-the single staff member had already been sent home; shift curtailed due to inactivity. I endured the splendid solitude of this once thriving community pub for 35 minutes before my friend came in to claim his nightly pint. We retired outside to the best smoking shelter in the area. The Brewery provided such but promptly added more monies to the monthly rent! Two other friends turned up within minutes, both non smokers I might add but they enjoy the company, and we spent the next 2 hours alternating between interior solitude and exterior pleasures; ie having a cigarette!

30 months ago there would have easily been 40 people in my local at this time of year but you see this government, using the simple 'divide & rule' tactic, ensured that the majority of those 40 would troop off to the supermarket and simply enjoy 'house parties'-where they could smoke to their hearts content.The licensee has had a change of heart and asked me "how the campaign was going?" I told him that was fighting vigorously to have the ban reformed but without the support of himself and thousands of licensees it was an uphill struggle. A simple truth.

He now agrees that he would happily entertain smokers for he has witnessed, at first hand, the devastation of this ban.How many other licensees would now be of similar mind?He did make the point that non smokers had a right not to be in a smokey environment-and fair play to that- but I quickly pointed out that he has two rooms and both with bar facilities in! How simple was the solution to his problem? That problem being the dearth of regular customers!

Ewan, you know as well as I do that many moons ago we had such a thing as a "SNUG" where smokers happily enjoyed both smoke & beer. Neither complained about the other, never was a hatred by one of the other spawned, and never was there violence created by one against the other, yet in this day and age one single badly executed law has created a hatred and intolerance between the factions. It has set man against man. It has caused colossal losses to industry. It has caused more bankruptcies than enough. it has rendered many couples homeless as a result of closure and it has caused 4 suicides for unfortunates that could see no way out of their desperation & misery.

Add to that approximately 100,000 job losses within the hospitality sector and you begin to see that all that maybe glittered was certainly never gold!

As we approach the 'death knell' period for many pubs & clubs (Jan-April), just how many would happily invite smokers back through the doors? Just how many could, with simple alterations & ventilation, cater for smokers & non smokers alike. How many thousands of businesses would this save from annihilation?

We had to listen to the Pubco's 'sucking up' to Government spin-we had no choice as the clean air fantasia drum was furiously beaten. How the likes of Mr Thorley & Mr Tuppen thought pubs would profit from such a move is totally beyond me-and many others-for 68% of regular drinkers have always been smokers! They are a different breed to non smokers in the main, they don't seem to worry about every last penny (unlike thousands of licensees these days!) and were always happy to lean against the bar with a pint.

Having 'leperised' 68% of their customer base pubs/clubs are now finding that approximately 20% of smokers non smoking friends have also deserted, preferring to enjoy house parties with their smoking friends. So just where do the new clean air pubs fit into all this?

"During these difficult times....." Food orientated! So now we have pub after pub portraying fantastic food offers. Good for them I say, but, when all pubs have resorted to food they are going to suffer the same fate as there will be too many food outlets to cater for the small minority that can actually afford to eat out on a daily basis! And most of them will not venture out in arctic conditions.

There has to be choice, there is no other answer, for without choice it is just a question of how many more pubs will close this year, just a question of how many more ex employees join the dole queues, and just a question of how many more commit the ultimate sacrifice: suicide through stress.

The WMCIU have thrown their support behind f2c, for they know that CHOICE is the only answer to survival. Freedom2choose are there for all the hospitality sector but are the licensees prepared to possibly irritate their Pubco masters in order to save their livelyhoods?

If 34% feel they won't be here in 12 months time just what have they got to lose?Phil Johnson,
Pub & Club Liaison Officer,
T: 0116 2997760
M: 07773 926818