Pub landlord is first person in Britain to be jailed over smoking ban
By Liz Hull
Last updated at 9:10 AM on 27th February 2010
A former pub landlord yesterday became the first person to be jailed in connection with the smoking ban.
Nick Hogan, 43, was sentenced to six months in prison for refusing to pay a fine imposed for flouting the legislation.
Two years ago Hogan, who ran two pubs in Bolton, became the first landlord convicted of breaking the law for allowing his customers to routinely light up in his bars.
Nick Hogan was the first person to be prosecuted under the new smoking laws. He will spend six months in prison after refusing to pay a fine
A judge fined Hogan, of Chorley, Lancashire, £3,000 and ordered him to pay £7,236 in costs after finding him guilty of four charges under the Health Act 2006.
But the married father-of-two refused to pay the fine and yesterday, after repeatedly being hauled back before the courts, a judge sitting at Bolton Crown Court finally lost patience and jailed him.
Last night his wife, Denise, 53, who is also a publican, said she was disgusted that her husband would be in prison alongside murderers and rapists.
'Criminals and bad people go to prison not law-abiding businessmen like my husband who are trying to earn an honest living,' she said. 'Nick doesn't deserve to go to jail, all he has done is speak his mind and people simply don't like it.
'Ninety per cent of people who come into my pub want to smoke, even the non-smokers think there should be a choice. These laws are ridiculous.'
At the hearing, in January 2008, magistrates were told Hogan held a 'mass light-up' in his two pubs, the Swan Hotel and Barristers' Bar, in Bolton, on the day the smoking ban came into force in July 2007.
He was visited by inspectors from the local authority, who found letters taped to pub tables advising customers they had the 'freedom to choose whether or not to smoke'.
They also saw regulars smoking on five separate occasions.
Hogan, who has since sold his lease for both the pubs, was cleared of one count of failing to prevent his customers from smoking and four further charges of obstructing council officers.
Deborah Arnott, chief executive of the anti-smoking group ASH, insisted it was a myth that the anti-smoking legislation had forced pubs out of business.
She said: 'Many pubs have shifted their focus to serving food, so they have changed their nature.'
She added: 'Mr Hogan is the exception, not the norm, because compliance rates for the ban are way above 90 per cent.'