Tim Martin, the chairman of JD Wetherspoon, stunned industry leaders by calling on the government to ban smoking in all pubs by January 2006. Martin said he believed an outright ban would be better for the pub industry in the long term than a piecemeal ban. "Since the early 1970s, the number of smokers has declined from approximately 55% of adults to around 27%," he said. Speaking in Wetherspoon News, Martin argued "the experience of California, where smoking was banned several years ago, indicates that pubs and restaurants can thrive, after a couple of very lean years, following a smoking ban." "However, it would be commercial suicide for a pub company to prohibit smoking in the absence of a nationwide ban by the government. Going it alone, in my opinion, is not a viable option in the pub world," he continued. But the Industry's Charter Group was quick to express its surprise at Martin's comments. Nick Bish, the group’s chairman, said: "Tim’s contributions are always thought provoking and JD Wetherspoon’s record in this matter has been exemplary, but he needs to look beyond his own business. "We should all be pro-active and make efforts to accommodate non-smoking customers. But this change should be progressive and should evolve with our industry, rather than being revolutionary and extreme. We should not transfer responsibility to government, let alone to local authorities where the record shows that unintended consequences usually arise from this sort of law making."