A decade ago, English pubs and clubs were a completely different place. It’s hard to imagine what they were like before the law about smoke-free public places came into force ten years ago, but the general impression was a dense fog, clothes and hair poised with the smell of tobacco, and waiters chasing to empty and replace loaded ashtrays.
In July 2007, the new law led to one of the larger social changes the UK had seen in recent years.
The UK now has one of the lowest smoking rates in Europe, but how did that affect public health, who turned the ban into a profit, and who are the biggest losers influenced by the new law?
The facts and numbers are clear – more people have given up smoking than expected. Smoking rates have gone down year-on-year. We will probably need another decade to see the real effect, but the fact that the number of children under 16 who are active smokers has halved is extremely encouraging.
Soon enough, numbers displayed a substantial decline in hospital admissions for heart attacks, asthma, and lung infections. In the year following the law, there were 2.4% less heart attack cases recorded. Translated from percents to numbers, that’s 1200 cases less. The impact on the health, in general, is undeniable and only time will show all the benefits.
In the business world, however, not everyone is so happy with the results of the smoking ban.
Let’s ignore the obvious and the only direct loser from this law – tobacco industry.
Who else was dependent on the smokers? Yes, you guessed that one right! Pubs and clubs.
Pub owners all over the country were furious with the ban, stating that it will ruin their business. Some organised and protested the law, while others went even further, ignored the ban and got jailed for it.
However, the issue of pubs in the UK is not black and white. While they complain about the smoking ban, customers are complaining about the enormous price for a pint, and they’re the ones who end up paying, not pub owners.
Another “victim” of the smoking ban was dry cleaning industry, and they weren’t happy about the ban either. Their business has declined and big companies’ shares have drastically fallen.
Ten years after the smoking ban, vaping is a £1bn business. Yes, you read that right. What’s even more shocking is that the sales of e-cigs are on course to exceed £2bn by 2020. Even though the number of smokers has been tremendously reduced, the number of Brits vaping today has reached 3 million.
Luckily, studies have shown no downsides and health risks related to vaping. At least not yet.