Smoking ban already hit bingo and beer

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One penny off a pint of beer is a reduction of approximately 1/280th in even the cheapest Edinburgh hostelries, so I ­really don’t see that the ­decline of the pub is going to be turned around by that.

High taxation is not nearly as relevant as the simple fact that, for example, one can buy three pints of strong lager in a supermarket (at £1.25 each) for the cost of one in a pub, and one can sit at home and watch football with friends and a ciggy, if you really must smoke.

Bingo halls have not been closing because of high taxation either; an ageing clientele with fixed habits, and the rise of mass internet use accounts for their decline.

Both these types of businesses have suffered hugely because of the smoking ban, particularly bingo, as the option of popping out to a smoking area is impractical when attention to the numbers is called for.

Online, though, pollution of one’s personal atmosphere is easy to do without becoming a criminal.

I don’t play bingo and don’t miss cigarettes in the pub, but don’t please patronise the public (and publicans) by suggesting that Chancellor George Osborne is rushing to the rescue.

The health Nazis, the internet, multi-channel TV and the supermarkets have done for bingo and boozers far more effectively than a few pennies of duty.

Magnus K Moodie

Boswall Terrace

Edinburgh

Professor David Bell may think it “somewhat paradoxical” to enforce auto-enrolment into a pension plan in early life while giving the over-55s the freedom to use it (Analysis, 20 March), but many will see that combination as simple common sense and an encouragement of personal responsibility.

But the coalition should have bitten the bullet and included a robust move away from all defined-benefit (DB) pensions – now largely in the public sector only – over a five-year transition, by, for example, removing corporation tax relief for such private-­sector contributions.

While benefits accrued to date would clearly have to be honoured, that would create a far more equitable pensions playing field both between the public and private sectors and within the private sector (ie the whole country) rather than the current pensions apartheid.

It would do away with the situations of either large funding deficits (dependent on future generations of contributors) or large surpluses (encouraging funding “holidays” or arousing HMRC suspicions of hidden tax-free reserves), and with the often-unsustainable contracts to 20-year-olds “guaranteeing” them a salary and pension for the next 75 years.

And many current DB employees might well prefer the flexibility of the Budget’s
proposals.

John Birkett

Horseleys Park

St Andrews

So the pension companies have been hammered in an unprecedented way by George Osborne’s Middle England Budget. Best of luck to Standard Life as it prepares to scurry off to its new headquarters down South.

John Baillie

Ardayre Road

Prestwick

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