10/11/2004

Scottish executive backs smoking ban

The Scottish executive has today confirmed that it will seek a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places.

In order to enforce the ban, pubs and restaurants that fail to enforce the law will face fines up to a maximum of £2,500. Any licensees who persistently refuse to comply with the law will face the ultimate sanction of losing their liquor licence.

For the individual smoker, fixed penalty notices will be in place to deter breaches a smoking ban – with a maximum fine of £1,000.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament, First Minister Jack McConnell said legislation would be introduced through before Christmas, and the smoking ban should be in place by spring 2006.

Mr McConnell said: "A comprehensive ban will be a clear signal that Scotland has changed. It will reduce smoking, save lives and help transform our national health. It will be easier to enforce and simpler to understand than other options that would fall short of that.

"We will take the steps to implement this decision together with those affected, not simply to impose it on those who are addicted, or worried about their business.

"I believe that there is no greater action we can take to improve the well-being of children and families in Scotland, for generations to come, than to secure this legislation and make Scotland's public places smoke free."

The BMA in Scotland today "applauded the courage" of the Scottish Executive, and urged legislators from all parties to drive the ban through "as a matter of urgency".

Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: "While government at Westminster procrastinates, our own Scottish Executive has consulted with the public, listened to the debate and has decided that the health of the population is worth more than the biased economic arguments and junk science promoted by those who argued against legislation.

He added: "We recognise that the hospitality industry has expressed concerns over the potential economic impact of restrictions on smoking in their premises, and we must work with them to make this legislation effective. We must not loose sight of the fact that this legislation is about protecting the health of workers and the public. Human life is worth more than any economic argument."

However, the Tobacco Manufacturers’ Association (TMA) claimed that the public mood was not behind a smoking ban, and called for a "voluntary approach to delivering more no-smoking areas".

TMA chief executive, Tim Lord, said: “Scotland was surveyed as part of a UK-wide poll of 10,000 people, undertaken by Populus. This showed that 77% are not in favour of a total ban in pubs, clubs and bars. The public want choice not a legislative ban with costly bureaucracy.”

(gmcg/sp)

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