But while 49% of finance directors think a smoking ban would benefit UK plc, according to the latest Accountancy Age/Reed Finance Big Question survey, many respondents took an opposing view. Some 41% of FDs thought a ban would have an adverse effect. Only 10% were neutral.
FDs had varied reasons for backing a ban. ‘There are many hidden costs incurred when people smoke, including days lost through sickness, early mortality and so on,’ said one FD.
Richard Lindsay of Skanem Newcastle believed that, because the ban was only on smoking in public places, it would lead to a ‘small decrease in cigarette sales and tax revenue’, with a ‘considerable economic benefit’ from people wanting to go to smoke-free pubs and restaurants.
But those opposed believed it would have an overall negative affect on the economy.
‘Two of the largest tobacco companies in the world are UK-owned and controlled. It would be bad both for the UK and the world economy,’ said another respondent.
‘You only have to look at the administration problems the smoking ban in Ireland has caused to understand the complications and extra red tape that will result from a ban like this,’ said an anonymous finance director.
The results followed research by Grant Thornton senior tax partner Mike Warburton, which revealed that £1.8bn of tax revenue could be lost to the government if smoking was banned in public places.
The British Medical Association added that the ban would only save the NHS £250m in costs by treating fewer smoking-related illnesses.
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