Ban on smoking wins majority support
A MAJORITY of Scots support a ban on smoking in public places, according to a poll for The Herald.
The survey found that 52% of those questioned were in favour of an all-out ban, while just above a third opposed outlawing cigarettes from all venues including pubs and restaurants.
The results were announced as ministers launched their new action plan to tackle Scotland's unhealthy addiction to tobacco and came under fire for not proposing new laws introducing a ban.
Dr John Garner, chairman of the British Medical Association in Scotland, accused the Scottish Executive of failing to tackle the devastating effect of smoking, which causes up to 25% of deaths north of the border. He added: "I am very pleased that there is a small majority of Scots in favour of banning smoking in public places in Scotland and I hope that the Scottish Executive will see this and reconsider introducing legislation to create smoke free public places."
The new blueprint for tackling smoking in Scotland, which has the highest rates of lung cancer in Europe, includes an additional Â£4m to help Scots quit and new enforcement measures to crack down on those selling cigarettes to under 16s.
It also promises a public consultation on how to deal with smoking in public places, which will cover the possibility of new laws making venues smoke-free but also the possibility of encouraging proprietors to introduce more no smoking zones voluntarily.
Launching the strategy in Glasgow yesterday, Tom Mc-Cabe, the deputy health minister, said: "The risks particularly to children associated with second-hand smoke are clear.
" No-one should involuntarily be subject to anyone else's smoke."
The NFO System Three poll commissioned by The Herald, which questioned 828 people between January 11 and 15, found 52% of Scots were in favour of a ban and 36% were against, while 8% had no opinion either way and 1% did not know. The figures were rounded up or down.
Mr McCabe described the findings as "very encouraging" and said an information and education programme would be running over the next months. An advertising campaign highlighting the risks of passive smoking will be screened as part of the drive to raise awareness, in advance of the consultation on smoking in public places which is due to start in the summer.
The executive's action plan is based on a report compiled by Health Scotland, the health education agency, and anti-smoking campaign group, Ash Scotland, and commended by Dr Mac Armstrong, chief medical officer for Scotland.
However, unlike the executive's strategy, the report strongly argues the case for some kind of ban. It recommends extending smoke-free zones in all enclosed public places, including premises where food and drink are served, and says: "It is most unlikely these objectives will be fully and consistently achieved without new legislation to restrict smoking in public places."
Maureen Moore, from Ash Scotland, said the executive's plan did not go far enough.
Despite the existence of a voluntary charter encouraging businesses to make efforts to cut smoking, seven out of 10 pubs still allow smoking throughout their premises.