Have fears that a smoking ban in English pubs will lead to mass closures, gone up in flames?

After the habit was banned in Ireland’s drinking houses for the public, 600 pubs were eventually closed, and some feared that English pub’s profitability would disappear in a puff of clean air, when a similar ban is enforced In England.

But news in from Scotland appears to suggests those fears are groundless.

Two companies, two different perspectives, and two sets of data were released yesterday, and the conclusion: peering thought the foggy world of statistics it would appear the smoking ban has had little effect.

First there is Imperial Tobacco, the British tobacco giant announced its latest results yesterday. Over the last six months pre tax profits were up 13% to £547mn, with cigarette sales up 9%, thanks to sales in Eastern Europe and Asia making up for the steady declining in the UK and Germany.

In the UK sales have been falling 4% a year, and yet, since the ban was enforced earlier this year, there has been no reduction in sales at all in Scotland.

Then, in the pub trade, JD Wetherspoon, said that since the Scottish smoking ban, sales in its 38 pubs north of the border have actually increased.

The company did launch a high profile marketing campaign emphasising the benefits of drinking in pubs where smoking is banned, however, and its Finance Director Jim Clarke said “ We’ve not really seen any difference in trade. I think our caution is that it’s only been four weeks. So, our conclusion is – good start, but still too early to judge.”

© Investment & Business News 2013