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New statistical data and research has shown that the smoking ban is the main cause of the close down of pubs in Ireland.
Since the smoking ban was introduced in 2004, the figures have shown that there is a very close correlation between the smoking ban and the fast decline of the iconic Irish pub.
This correlation is much stronger than the link between the recession, the rise in alcohol duty and the comparatively cheaper alcohol prices at supermarkets and pub closures. Though these factors have also partially contributed to the closures.
The Revenue website issued a statistical report showing that 1,097 pubs in Ireland had to shut their doors four years after the smoking ban came in. A similar number of closures were also seen in Scotland, England and Wales despite differences in cultures and pub traditions.
The smoking ban has now been in full effect for four years in Ireland and Scotland, with both countries losing 11% of their public houses. In comparison, England and Wales have enforced the smoking ban for the last three years, and both of these countries have lost up to 7.6% of their pubs. The stats show that combined 5,298 pubs across the UK have had to close in the last 3 years.
While some pubs were struggling to keep afloat in the wake of the recession - as consumers started to tighten their belts when it came to spending - the smoking ban accelerated the rate at which they had to close. Fed up with having to stand out in the rain to smoke, smokers chose instead to socialise in their homes rather than gathering at the pub.
John Mallon, spokesperson for Forest Eirann which is the voice of the smokers of Ireland, believes the government should relax the ban so smokers can light up all year round in a warm and comfortable environment. He says pubs need smokers to survive, and ministers shouldn’t ignore this for any longer.