Talon Posted September 1, 2004 #1 Share Posted September 1, 2004 Ministers to ban smoking in pubs MURDO MACLEOD POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT SMOKING is to be banned in all of Scotland’s 7,500 pubs and bars under government plans to follow the highly successful tobacco-free zones in Ireland and New York, it emerged last night. Ministers had previously restricted any plans for a smoking ban to restaurants because they feared a massive backlash from drinkers and the tobacco lobby. But after similar moves in New York and Ireland were met with less resistance than expected and produced evidence some smokers were quitting, Scottish ministers now want a more far-reaching crackdown. Scotland on Sunday can reveal that deputy health minister Tom McCabe wants to introduce a draft bill by the end of the year that will include the country’s 5,100 pubs and 2,400 hotel bars in a smoking ban. First Minister Jack McConnell, who has been sceptical about a ban, has now made it known he is "open to persuasion". Medical professionals and anti-smoking campaigners were last night delighted at the change in thinking at the Scottish Executive, but the tobacco lobby claims the moves are Draconian and are marshalling their forces to oppose them. Last month, Prime Minister Tony Blair strongly signalled that a ban on smoking in public might be included in the Labour manifesto for the next Westminster election. Any such move would, however, only apply south of the Border. Scottish ministers are eager to move more quickly on the issue because of the nation’s high rates of cancer and heart disease. Last week, a medical study suggested that passive smoking might be twice as deadly as previously thought, increasing the risk of a heart attack for non-smokers who live with a smoker. A source close to McCabe, who is steering the Executive’s consultation on a possible smoking ban, said last night: "Although he is waiting for the end of the consultation he is very much of the view that there should be a ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants." A source on the parliament’s health committee said: "Tom McCabe is up for a ban. He has let it be known to us that he is convinced that it will be a good idea. Jack McConnell has been unconvinced in the past but the weight of evidence of public opinion is making him keener on the idea." Ministers will also meet with officials from the Irish Republic to discuss how the ban on smoking in pubs, introduced earlier this year, has worked. Landlords fear that a ban would mean lost takings as smokers opt to have their pint and a puff at home instead of at the bar. And while taking their drink outside while they smoke might be an option in some parts of Scotland, both Glasgow and Dundee have passed by-laws against drinking alcohol outside, meaning that smokers will have to leave their drinks in the bar while they pop out for a cigarette. In Ireland, however, there has been hardly any overt opposition to the ban, although the first trading figures from the aftermath of the ban show that takings in bars were down by 3.9% in April, compared with the previous month. Supporters of a ban have claimed that the dip will be temporary, and that bars and restaurants will see their business bounce back. Last year, New York introduced a smoking ban, leading to claims that smokers would take their trade to nearby states where smoking was still allowed in bars and eating places. Officials from New York have since claimed that after an initial slump, the hospitality trade has recovered. Crucially, there is evidence that 100,000 smokers have quit since the ban. Speaking to the Scottish Parliament’s health committee, Dr Nancy Miller, assistant commissioner of the New York City department of health and mental hygiene’s bureau of tobacco control, said: "When we consider the hospitality industry in particular, as opposed to the economy in general, we see that it is doing even better than everyone else, especially since the law was implemented." The British Medical Association, which represents doctors and which last week called on ministers to push through a complete ban on smoking in public places, welcomed the signals from the minister. A spokeswoman for BMA Scotland said: "We believe that there is growing public support for a ban. We would welcome the strong political leadership bringing it in would show." Stewart Maxwell MSP, who introduced a member’s bill to ban smoking in restaurants, said last night: "I welcome the fact that the Executive appears to be accepting the argument that smoking needs to be banned in pubs and restaurants. It’s very welcome that Tom McCabe fully accepts the ban should be comprehensive." Brian Monteith, a Tory MSP who is sceptical of the arguments for a ban, said: "The evidence from New York is inconclusive at best. And no one should base any decisions on the evidence from Ireland. Anecdotal evidence shows that Irish smokers are heading to Scotland for smoking holidays." Monteith appealed for backers of the bill to allow smoking clubs to be set up even if a ban goes ahead. Simon Clark, the director of the smokers’ rights lobby group Forest, said: "This all seems to have an air of déjà vu about it. The smoking ban in Ireland was forced through by an ambitious minister who wanted to make his name. This ban is about politics, and the need to be seen to be doing something rather than about health. We believe there should be changes and better facilities for non-smokers. But a ban will be a disaster for the hospitality industry. I don’t understand why people are objecting to them turning up for meetings and making their views known." MSPs who want smoking forbidden suggest the tobacco and hospitality trades are trying to head off a ban by deluging the Scottish Executive’s smoking consultation with replies opposing the curb and by filling public meetings with critics of a clampdown on smoking. Last week’s consultation meeting in Dundee was dominated by licensees who spoke out against a smoking ban, and pubs in Glasgow are organising a ballot which has so far come out against prohibition. http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/polit...fm?id=766292004 About time, decrease our cancer rates, and if Pubs suffer as well, then thats our alcohol problem out the window too Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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