Ted Tuppen, chief executive of Solihull-based Enterprise Inns - Britain's second-biggest pub owner - yesterday launched another scathing attack on the Government's handling of a forthcoming smoking ban in England.
His verbal assault came as the group issued a trading update which showed it had performed well over the Christmas period.
The days of the week on which the Christmas holidays fell, favourable weather and a recent extension of opening hours were among the factors that boosted pub sales.
"In line with everyone else, the run-up to Christmas was extremely good," Mr Tuppen said ahead of the group's annual general meeting.
"The period between Christmas and New Year was very solid. And what's important for us once Christmas is over is whether the cellars are still full, and they clearly weren't, because the ordering after Christmas was good as well."
With around 8,600 tenanted pubs, Enterprise was Britain's biggest pub owner until last month, when rival Punch struck a £2.7 billion deal to buy the Spirit pub group.
A complete ban on smoking in all English pubs and clubs looks likely, with a vote in Parliament due next month. Mr Tuppen criticised the Government's handling of the issue, particularly a proposal that the country's 20,000 private members' clubs be exempted.
"How that can be justified on health and safety grounds, one can not imagine," he said. "The whole thing remains a muddle. The Government have managed this so incompetently.
"There will be some pubs that may well close as a result of a total ban.
"We sell 150 to 200 pubs a year that are underperforming or have the potential for underperformance, and I wouldn't be surprised if within that there's a number of pubs where we think they probably won't survive a smoking ban."