PUBLICANS and pub-goers across the county have raised a glass to mark 10 years since the end of smoke-filled clubs and bars.

A decade ago today, pubs were forced to adapt to new laws which meant that smoking was prohibited inside the tens of thousands of pubs nationwide.

On the anniversary of the ban, Oxfordshire landlords have said that they have grown to embrace the change and some have even said it has become a boon for the industry.

Landlord at Abingdon’s The Plough, Liam Carberry, called the ban "the best thing that had ever happened to the trade".

The 33 year-old self-confessed smoker, said: “I think, in hindsight, pubs support it now. Initially it did upset people but now it’s much better.

“It brings more families to pubs and people that would not come into pubs normally.

“The people that really moaned about it had been in pubs in the 1970s and 1980s and it was really different then to drinking in the pubs from the late 90s to now.

“I think it’s great. If I was eating and someone is smoking, I wouldn’t like it.”

The landlord of the Mason's Arms in Headington Quarry, Oxford, Chris Meeson also praised the ban but admitted it had been tough to begin with.

He said: "Initially it hit my trade quite dramatically. We lost a few customers that wanted to have their cigarettes in the pub.

"Ten years later, I think it has been a great thing. There's a much better atmosphere. Everyone has had to adapt.

"We have had to create a new area for the smokers and especially with vaping coming in, now I have seen a lot of people actually giving up. That's probably off the back of the ban.

"I have also given up, and I probably would not have done if there was still smoking in pubs.

"Times have changed. When I think back to the smoky atmosphere now that we used to work in, it is much better now."

Despite the optimism among landlords now, when the ban was first introduced there was resistance to the change in Oxfordshire.

Former landlord of The Plough Inn, Abingdon, Don Stone, quit the trade days after it came into effect in protest, claiming he was losing £1,000 a week as a result of the ban.

In 2009 The Mason Arms, South Leigh, came under the spotlight after the then-owner Gerry Stonhill became the first pub landlord in Oxfordshire to be fined for flouting the smoking ban.

Despite protestations he finally caved in after being fined £5,750, and provided an outdoor smoking area for customers. The pub was put up for sale in 2013 when Mr Stonhill decided to retire.

Oxfordshire Campaign for Real Ale spokesman David Richardson said that while many pubs had seen a dip in trade, pubs had adapted well and were looking to the future.

He said: "While the smoking ban has undoubtedly contributed to a drop in pub visiting, especially soon after it was introduced, many pubs have created outdoor smoking areas or patios for customers who still smoke.

“Non-smokers often comment that it became much nicer to visit a pub after the ban, which encouraged more pubs to introduce food. I rarely hear a publican complaining about the ban nowadays."