Casualties in the pub trade from the public places’ smoking ban, which takes effect next summer appear to be inevitable, says The Sunday Times. In a special report on the issue the British Beer and Pub Association estimates several hundred of them could close. But JP Morgan disagrees and says where there is a risk of some short-term downturn, the longer-term impact could be positive. Punch Taverns says an initial analysis of what has happened in Scotland where a ban was introduced eight months ago concludes that the effect has been “benign rather than malign”. Much hope rests on the 75% of the population that does not smoke, a hefty proportion of whom might visit pubs once they become smoke-free, with good quality food the temptress. However, Greene King warns one of the lessons to learn from the ban in Scotland is from those pubs that concentrated too much on food and neglected the drinks side of the business, which left them with no steady cashflow once the novelty of the restaurant died away. The Sunday Times says Mitchells & Butlers, which reports its results this week, should provide further insight. Meanwhile, Punch Taverns, Greene King and Enterprise Inns is spending more than £100m to fit out pubs with smoking facilities outside for diehard customers. The Sunday Times (Business) 26/11/06 page 1, page 13