Last Call for Many Pubs as British Economy Declines

An industry group says nearly 30 pubs closed every week in British last year because of high costs, economic worries and the effects of a smoking ban.

The British Beer & Pub Association says 1,409 pubs closed in 2007, compared with 216 in 2006 and 102 the year before that.

The impact was greatest in cities, where the group estimated that 2 percent of pubs closed last year. Association spokesman Neil Williams says city pubs could not provide comfortable areas for smokers as rural pubs have done.

Williams said Friday that pubs are responding by campaigning for lower beer taxes and by promoting the traditional British pub, which dates back centuries. But he says the high rate of closures is unlikely to fall while current economic strains persist.