A YEAR after the smoking ban was introduced, pub landlords in north and west Wiltshire have described the "detrimental and costly" effect on their businesses.

The national ban on smoking in public places came into effect on July 1, 2007, and businesses were obliged to put up signs telling people they could no longer smoke on their premises.

Lionel Hadland, who has run The New Inn, in New Road, Chippenham, for the past 18 years, said he had not seen a profit for months.

"I am going to have to approach the brewery and see if I can get a reduction in rent as otherwise I am going to have to move on," he said.

"The smoking ban has been terrible. People have stopped coming in as I have nowhere for them to go outside and smoke.

"I'm sure people have started drinking at home now instead."

Mr Hadland who runs the pub with his partner Jane, said they had let a member of staff go because they couldn't afford to pay her anymore.

He said: "Because the building is Grade II listed I can't make any changes to it either. The smoking ban has been a disaster for me - really terrible."

Alan Packman, landlord of the Prince of Wales in Dilton Marsh, said he and his wife Lynne had to invest their own money into the pub to make sure people kept coming in after the ban.

He said: "I think it has generally been a very hard year and we have put a lot of extra effort in to make sure our customers keep coming back.

"They have been very supportive, but we have invested a lot of money making sure they are kept happy."

Mr Packman said he and his wife completely gutted the bar area of the pub to coincide with the introduction of the ban.

He said they felt it was a necessary move to attract trade.

"One thing I will say is that pubs were told they could expect a whole load of new customers to come in when the ban started," he said.

"This is something that we havent noticed happen at all.

"I suppose things will ease eventually but we are still very conscious of keeping our customers happy to maintain our business."

The Wiltshire Times reported in May how five pubs in Bradford on Avon were being sold off due to a reported fall in trade, some of which was attributed to the smoking ban.

Peter Everleigh, landlord of The Riverside Inn, said he was selling up because the smoking ban had deterred people from going into pubs.

But Les Clayton, owner of the Plough Inn, in Bradford Leigh had a slightly more positive attitude this week, saying he believed the ban was something people had to accept now.

He said: "We weren't here when the ban kicked in, we have only been here nine months, but we have two smoking areas and they are well used.

"I think the moans and groans are getting fewer and far between now though."

A spokesman for Wiltshire Primary Care Trust said 3,908 people in the county had set a date to stop smoking in the last year and 2,008 smokers quit after four weeks of help from local clinics.

Fiona Andrews, south west regional tobacco policy manager, said: "Though the main reason for introducing smokefree law was to protect workers and the general public from the harmful effects of second hand smoke, we now know that, since it was introduced last year, many more smokers have found it has also created a more supportive environment for them to quit smoking."