TAKINGS at some pubs have slumped by up to 40 per cent since the smoking ban came into force, a shock survey of landlords by The Press has revealed.

As the first anniversary of the ban on smoking in unventilated public places approaches, The Press asked more than 50 licensees across York and North and East Yorkshire what impact they believe it has had on their trade.

There were warnings before the ban came in to force on July 1 last year that it could prove disastrous, particularly for pubs without beer gardens.

And the results of our survey - one of the most comprehensive of its kind to be carried out in the region - show landlords' worries were in many cases justified.

Out of 52 publicans who responded, 25 said trade had been affected, with 23 saying it had not been affected, and four unsure.

A small number of licensees, mostly of pubs with a strong food business, said there had been some benefits, for example by making it a better environment for eating food.

But 17 pubs said trade had fallen because of the ban, in many cases by 20 per cent or more.

One York pub, whose landlady requested that she remained anonymous, reported a 40 per cent drop in takings since the ban came into affect.

Many publicans said other factors had been at work in hitting their takings as well as the ban, including England's failure to qualify for the European Football Championships, the rising cost of beer, the general problems in the economy, and soaring fuel and food costs.

Since the start of the year, several pubs - including the Oddfellows Arms, in Pocklington, and The Phoenix, in George Street, York, have closed.

My takings are down 30 per cent'

Alan Jackson, who has been landlord of the Edward VII in Nunnery Lane, York, for about five years, said he believed his trade was down by between 25 and 30 per cent because of the ban.

He said that in the early months, he had lost custom because of delays in winning planning permission to open an outdoor smoking area at the back of the pub.

"People who wanted to smoke went to other pubs which had got beer gardens and so on, and have got used to them," he said.

He said that after winning permission, he had opened a smoking area after Christmas, but struggled to win back the missing business, and he urged customers to come back to his pub.

Of the ban, he said: "I think there should have been freedom of choice, perhaps keeping one room open for smoking."