IT HAS been five years since the smoking ban came into effect — a period which has coincided with the largest number of pub closures seen in recent years.
But can the smoking ban be held responsible?
And has it actually achieved any of its aims?
The estimated number of adult smokers in Fife is 78,894, and NHS Fife say that since the ban was implemented they have seen an increase in numbers of people using their stop smoking services.
According to the 2009 Scottish Household Survey, 26.7 per cent of adults smoked in 2005, falling to 24.3 per cent in 2009. Statistics from anti-smoking pressure group ASH Scotland suggest that levels of adult smoking in Kirkcaldy are 30 per cent, the 16th highest area in Scotland.
In the five years since the ban dozens of Kirkcaldy pubs have closed down — the Buccaneer, the Templehall Tavern, the White Heather, the Port Brae, and the Royal Scot to name but a few well known places..
But Sandy Haxton, chairman of Fife Licensed Trade Association, is reluctant to lay the blame completely at the door of the smoking ban.
He said: “It’s one of the many reasons at the end of the day it’s only one of the nails in the licensed trade coffin.
‘‘The trade has changed and it’s wrong for people to say it’s only the smoking ban.
“It’s more to do with people drinking in their houses rather than the smoking ban. The irresponsible pricing going on in supermarkets is just crazy.”
He added: “It certainly hasn’t helped though.
“I personally don’t like people hanging around outside pubs because it can be intimidating for people coming in.
“I would have been in favour of a partial ban.”
Brian Whittaker, manager of Eddy’s Bar, agrees that the ban has had an effect on numbers coming to pubs.
However, he added: “I must admit it is cleaner. You used to have to change your clothes every day because of the smell.
“The problem is if there’s a football match people will stand outside with drinks, but we can’t help that because of the ban.”
Nick Bromfield, proprietor of the Harbour Bar said pubs had to play to their strengths.
He said: “We’re the only ale pub in town and we’ve seen no real effect since the ban.
‘‘There are a lot of pubs closing though. There were four pubs in between me and the Heritage when I first moved in and now there are none.”