Because we all know how fervently they campaigned for the property rights of community pub owners pre 2007, don't we? Oddly, the triumphant post at CAMRA's website which welcomed the smoking ban has been removed, but local chapters give you the general gist of their stoic resistance.
Still, at least they're manning the ramparts now, albeit late, by commissioning a comprehensive report. Well, kinda. Despite the observable damage - widely predicted prior to the ban - there is little in it about restoring some kind of self-determination of smoking policy for community pubs. This is about the sum of it.
IPPR asked colleagues at Sheffield University to explore some potential reasons for explaining why pub closure rates might be higher in some areas than others. They examined the correlation at constituency level between pub closures and two other variables: the level of deprivation and smoking rates. The latter was intended to allow us to explore the impact of the ban on smoking in public places.They could have, I dunno, suggested relaxing the 50% exposed rule on smoking shelters, or restated earlier calls for smoking rooms for 'landlocked' pubs, but decided to swerve such things.
So, the extent of this deep research was to see if differences in geographical closures could be explained by geographical conditions, completely ignoring that pub fortunes had suffered markedly everywhere since July 2007 (and well before the onset of the recession); that the pub experience had been devalued for smokers and many non-smokers; and that working class areas (where smoking prevalence is higher) are traditionally more unwilling to ditch pub life than wealthier ones, which would confound such a simplistic approach.
Our brief analysis of why pub closure rates differ between parliamentary constituencies indicates that there is a weak positive correlation between closure rates and smoking rates in England. However, this may be hiding other explanatory variables: for example, it may be simply because smoking rates are higher in more deprived communities.And the whitewash is complete. The real problem - obviously something CAMRA find a bit too sticky to tackle - can now be ignored, which is all rather hunky-dory for an organisation who quite like smokefree pubs despite community ones being destroyed by the ban but still, politically, need to show some semblance of 'doing something'.
All of which probably explains their choice of report author. You see, out of all the think tanks they could have chosen, they plumped for one which is rather compromised. Recommending amendments to the smoking ban wouldn't play well with the IPPR's funders, for a start.
Such as, in the £10k-£20k category, Pfizer - manufacturers of nicotine replacement therapy extraordinaire, and perennial sponsors of smokefree conferences worldwide.
Under the more generous £50k-£100k group, we find the Nuffield Foundation, who designed the 'Intervention Ladder' for clamping down on what the state deems as unapproved lifestyle choices. Not heard of it? Their graphic below gives you a clue.
And, of course, the sole funder in the £100k+ category, and therefore not to be offended in any way whatsoever, is the EU. This continent's prime driver of anti-smoking policies.
CAMRA knew, by commissioning the IPPR, that any correct - but inconvenient - analysis of why pubs are dying on their arses would be swept under the carpet, especially since the IPPR have quite a link to the party which bludgeoned through the Health Act 2006 in the first place.
That's quite a few big feeding hands that the IPPR would do well not to bite too hard. And, do you know, I think CAMRA knew this when they sat down to 'help' community pubs. Treble Bishop's Fingers all round!
If you're knowledgeable in this area, you'll also have noticed one other striking coincidence - happily for CAMRA - in the choice of University to carry out the smoking ban research. Sheffield have form, you see.
2008 - University of Sheffield government-funded research suggests minimum price would reduce alcohol harm.In fact, the University of Sheffield 'research' on minimum pricing of alcohol is the one quoted exclusively by anti-booze campaigners in the face of dozens of others which rubbish the - well, rubbish - idea.
But then, why choose any other when requiring a report to come to this conclusion.
5.2.6 Minimum pricing to reduce the price differential between the on and the off tradeWhen, oh when, are these CAMRA blockheads going to recognise a threat when they see it? Sheesh!
The difference between the price of beer sold in the on and the off trades has led to more people drinking at home or in places other than licensed premises. As beer tax has increased, so too has the price of beer in pubs. The supermarkets are able to use their market power to ensure that increased duty is not passed on by their suppliers.
They can also afford to sell alcohol at below cost and as a loss leader to entice customers through their doors and spend on other products. Alcohol is not like any old commodity, because excessive consumption is damaging to health and contributes significantly to crime and disorder. This is why alcohol is taxed in the first place. There is therefore a case for preventing the sale of alcohol at very low prices. To do this a minimum retail price per unit of alcohol should be introduced.
The Scottish government is now implementing such a policy and in England the chief medical officer has voiced his support. Researchers at Sheffield University estimate that a minimum price of 40p per unit would reduce consumption especially among excessive drinkers and the young. While this would put up prices in shops and supermarkets, pub prices are already well above that level and would be unaffected.