A senior Midland figure in the pub trade has urged the Government to learn from the "shambolic" handling of its licensing reforms when it launches a smoking ban in England and Wales.
Ted Tuppen, chief executive of Solihull-based pub giant Enterprise Inns, called for a timetable and details to be issued shortly to allow the public and the industry 12 months to adjust to the proposals.
A ban has been in place in Scotland since March and Enterprise said it had been met with "equanimity" by drinkers. Mr Tuppen yesterday praised the implementation of the smoking ban north of the border as being well publicised and handled clearly by the Scottish Parliament.
He said: "I would like to think that the Government has learned from the shambolic handling of its licensing reforms and that it will provide full details very soon.
"It is not unreasonable to give licensees and the public 12 months notice to ensure the implementation goes smooth-ly." He was critical of the handling by the Government of its flexible drinking hours legislation last year.
Mr Tuppen said he hoped clear guidance and details of regulations of the smoking ban would be issued by the start of summer.
He said lobby groups such as the British Beer and Pubs Association were working with the Government.
The ban will stop smoking in all pubs, bars, private clubs and restaurants.
Mr Tuppen believed licensees in general were taking a pragmatic view, with many looking to see how they could benefit from the move.
Enterprise - the second largest UK pub owner behind Punch Taverns - boasts an 8,579 strong estate and yesterday sounded an optimistic note about trading.
Issuing interim results for the six months to March 31, it said that while beer volumes and income from gaming machines were marginally down on the rest of its estate in England and Wales, the business had been pleased by the performance of its 139 sites north of the border.
Mr Tuppen described the results as strong and achieved against a background of weak consumer spending and legislative pressures on licensees. Enterprise said under-lying earnings rose 4.3 per cent to #268 million in the six months to the end of March.
The average earnings figure per pub was #31,200 in the period, compared with #29,600 a year earlier.
Chairman Hubert Reid said it was too early to draw definitive conclusions on the impact of the Scottish ban on smoking in pubs.
He said: "Encouragingly for all concerned it appears that customers have accepted the ban with equanimity."
Mr Reid pointed out that some poor quality pubs could suffer a decline in trade. However, better quality pubs with a more diverse offering - including some kind of external trading area - would "gain new customers and market share and can grow profitability."
Mr Reid said of the planned ban in England and Wales that the business was encouraged by "the optimism of our licensees who in most cases see the ban as an opportunity to develop their businesses and attract new customers".