A lot has been said on the smoking ban and how it has affected pubs, and now we are having a similar situation with the economic downturn affecting them. One thing though I have found after two local pub closures is that these things have reduced the hiding place for crap pubs.
One of them had a brilliant sitting area with large windows to capture the light and warmth but the staff were always rude and the beer and wine were often 'off'so more often you would be drinking bottled products the staff couldn't wreak. For some reason you could overlook the crap bits for the nice place to sit and chat to your mates but when you couldn't enjoy that area because your mates smoked so you were more often than not in the awful garden complete with household waste the owners couldn't be bothered to chuck in the bins then all of a sudden those higher prices and crap service began to annoy.
The other one was always rough but with the ill behaviour spreading to the street instead of being contained indoors with a fug that would make a pea-souper look like a bit of mist, the pub really let it's true nature to be known. After the landlords tried to establish a 11am 'Happy Hour' for their regulars, people actually noticed and got together to get the pub closed. Before the smoking ban people would say it was awful and something should be done but as it didn't directly affect them nothing was done. As soon as the regulars of that pub were now lolling on the public benchs outside, fag and drink in hand and swearing loudly in the high street, it was shut quickly. For this reason I think the ban has done drinkers a favor in that the hiding places for these types of places is disappearing.
I know that there have been good pubs that have been forced to shut and there are bad pubs still going but hopefully one good side to some of the problems we have had is that the weak and poorly run ones may finally disappear. Whilst I don't agree on the ban and would have preferred pubs to have smoking and non-smoking bars again, it isn't going to be changed so this is one way of looking on the bright side.