WHEN the ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces was introduced in England the country's pubs and clubs faced a massive shift in their culture.

In the ten years that followed the life of the publicans and their customers have undergone some big changes.

But a decade down the line, many believe the ban played a huge factor in the decline of our locals.

According to smokers’ group Forest there are 1,788 in the North West and 11,383 fewer pubs in England compared to 2006, a decline of 20.7 per cent since the ban was introduced on July 1 2007.

In Bolton pub closures have often been paired with comments on the problems caused by the smoking ban.

Bolton Council licensing sub-committee chairman, Cllr Martin Donaghy believes the strict and sudden ruling played a part.

He said: "It has definitely hit the licensing trade, particularly the clubs. I can only go off my own experience in the town but there is only one Labour club left in the whole of Bolton, all the others have shut down.

"There are other factors involved, but one of the main ones is the smoking ban on premises.

"They would have been better served with a dedicated room in the club with modern extraction system.

"It was like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut, there was no room for manoeuvring. It was just a blanket ban, full stop.

"The final nail in the coffin came with the smoking ban but, at the end of the day, for health reasons alone it was a good thing."

After the ban was imposed — making it illegal to smoke in an enclosed public space — there were people who tried to defy the ban.

Most famous among them was Nick Hogan, former landlord of The Swan and Barristers in Bradshawgate, who vowed his pub would continue to allow people to smoke inside.

He faced a total of £11,136 in fines and costs when he was found guilty of breaching the ban in January, 2008 and lost his appeal.

However, Mr Hogan, from Chorley, was sent to prison for six months by Bolton Magistrates Court in February, 2010 for failing to pay the money.

He walked free 11 days later after the money was paid off through donations raised in an online campaign.

Since the ban Bolton Council has launched 10 prosecutions for breaching it, resulting in convictions.

A total of 25 fines have been issued, along with one official warning.

It has received 156 complaints about smoking in premises covered by the ban and has visited 21 places as a result of complaints.

Steve Hoyle, owner of town centre Oscar's Bar and Nightclub, has been chairman of Bolton Pubwatch and has worked in the leisure industry for over 20 years.

He said: "The ban did have a massive effect on all the bars.

"How can you tell a 40 or 60-year-old they are not allowed to smoke? It was a difficult situation.

"With the combination of lots of cheap drink being available to buy, it has had an impact.

"You will probably find a lot of the older generation stopped going out because the socialising had gone, gone are the days when you could sit with a pint and a cigarette."