Pubs are now better places to visit than they were in the 1970s, a poll of beer lovers found.

The smoking ban was named the biggest single change to pubs of the past 35 years in the Campaign for Real Ale’s (Camra) survey.

Its poll of more than 800 drinkers showed 62% of them preferred present day pubs to those in the 1970s.

A wider choice of drinks and more flexible drinking hours were other factors which made them better, the survey found.

But among the respondents who were old enough to legally drink in pubs in 1974, just 53% thought present day pubs were better than in the 1970s.

Many of those who thought pubs were better three decades ago said they used to be "more of a local".

Camra marketing manager Tony Jerome said: "Millions of people are set to return to pubs now that a ban on smoking has been enforced and licensees need to make sure they are providing the service that these people want."

The online Camra poll of more than 800 people asked respondents to name their favourite "pub era" and why, and to name the most significant change to pubs of the past 35 years.

Camra’s Good Beer Guide 2008 launches today. It includes 10 "super pubs" which have featured in every issue of the guide since it was first published in 1974.

A Worcestershire pub has been named the best place in the region to enjoy a pint in the new Good Beer Guide.

The Bell, in Pensax, was handed the accolade in the Guide, which will be released in a ceremony at the pub this evening.

John Greaves, the landlord of the country pub described as "friendly and welcoming", said he was delighted to have won the award.

"I couldn't have done it on my own," he said. "It's not just about the pub, it's also about the community of people socialising and enjoying themselves here.

"It's just a unique atmosphere."

A spokesman for CAMRA said 2007 had been a good year for beer and pubs in the West Midlands, with 73 new entries in the Good Beer Guide for the region.

And the region also saw a boom in new pints being produced, with the launch of five new "micro" breweries. Breweries like Weobley, Stonehouse, Morton, Blue Bear and Brick Top all started in 2007 to satisfy Midlanders' thirst for Real Ale.