737 pubs closed since introduction of smoking ban
The report claims the decline in the British pub has been accelerated by the ban in Scotland in March 2006.
**More than 700 pubs in Scotland have closed since the smoking ban was introduced, according to a report. **
Scotland was the first part of the UK to bring in legislation outlawing smoking in enclosed public places.
But research commissioned by the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign showed that 11.1% of pubs north of the border had closed their doors since the ban was brought in in March 2006.
Campaign director Simon Clark said: "Politicians can bury their heads in the sand and pretend otherwise, but there is no doubt that the smoking ban has had a devastating effect."
The report, by CR Consulting, showed that almost three years after the smoking ban was introduced 7.1% of pubs in Scotland had closed, with this rising to 11.1% after four years.
In Ireland 11% of pubs had shut within four years of the smoking ban coming into effect.
And in England and Wales - where smoking in public places was banned later - the report revealed that more than 7% of pubs had closed after almost three years.
In Scotland there were 6,610 pubs open when the ban was brought in in 2006, with this falling to 5,873 within four years - a drop of 737.
Oliver Griffiths, director of CR Consulting, said: "The decline of the British pub had started before the smoking ban but at a low level. The ban had a sudden and marked impact, accelerating the rate of decline."
The report suggested other factors, such as cheap drink prices in supermarkets, had had an impact on the pub trade.
However, Mr Griffiths said: "While it is not the only factor in the closure of pubs, the smoking ban is demonstrably the most significant cause of pub closures."
Paul Waterson, president of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: "This research shows how badly Scottish pubs have been hit by the indoor smoking ban, cut-price supermarket competition and regulation."
He claimed Scotland`s pubs were "a national asset that are in peril" and added: "It is time for the Executive to have a joined-up approach that aims to help our industry and the major role it has in the economy and society, not allow it to be driven into the ground."
Mr Clark also urged politicians to act, saying: "For the sake of our local communities, the Government must review the smoking ban. Options should include separate smoking rooms, which would protect the interests of non-smokers.
"The Government should also relax the regulations on outdoor smoking shelters so people can smoke outside in a warm and comfortable environment all year round."
Eddie Douthwaite of Freedom to Choose (Scotland) believes that modern air filtration methods mean that the smoking ban should be amended.
He said: "Modern air filtration technology is a far cry from the 'ventilation' considered unable to extract toxins or particulate matter from the air when the introduction of a smoking ban was debated in 2005.
"These air filtration products are currently fitted in aircraft and in hospitals, where they can remove particulate contamination together with airborne viruses, spores, and bacteria. Their use in the hospitality industry as an alternative to smoking bans is surely a step in the right direction especially as the indoor air quality would be far better than the air outdoors.
"The Scottish Government should accept that new technology has provided a solution that could eliminate any need for this socially divisive and economically disastrous smoking ban."