Letters: NHS smoking ban opponents don’t represent most Scots

Large crowds gather at Newtongrange as the Queen opens the Borders Railway. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
Large crowds gather at Newtongrange as the Queen opens the Borders Railway. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor
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I WAS disappointed by the lack of balance and rigour in your report on attitudes to smoking in hospital grounds (“Scots oppose ban on smoking outside hospitals”, News, 6 September).

That headline referred to figures from an online survey which made no attempt to gather an accurate cross-­section of the population. Your article ignored the clear statement in the report that “the survey should not be interpreted as being representative of the population as a whole”.

Referring to the views expressed on smoking in hospital grounds, the authors of the report highlighted that “the phrasing of [the question] may have contributed to this negative response as the statement does not specify whether it refers exclusively to smoking cigarettes or includes the smoking of e-cigarettes.” This is hugely important given that 68 per cent of the respondents indicated they were current users of electronic cigarettes (more than ten times our estimate of the actual proportion of the population).

ASH Scotland is aware both of the genuine desire amongst NHS Boards to promote health by preventing smoking within any area they are responsible for, and of the problems experienced by some vulnerable people in complying.

That is why we have both supported the Scottish Government’s proposal to create a smoke-free perimeter around hospital buildings by law, and said that we would like to see decisions on wider smoke-free spaces being devolved to the local planning system, enabling solutions tailored to the local situation and allowing engagement and consultation with local communities.

Sheila Duffy, chief executive, 
ASH Scotland, Edinburgh

Sturgeon faces indyref dilemma

ANDREW Wilson reflects the view that the SNP central office wants to give on a referendum rerun (Insight, 6 September). They seem to be urging their supporters to be patient and wait until a win can be assured. Alex Salmond has appeared keener on going earlier rather than later, and there has been a long list of those wanting to add their voices to that call. Last week, the SNP’s previous deputy leader, Jim Sillars, and SNP Glasgow North East MP, Anne McLaughlin, have left no doubt that they want to see a second independence referendum during the term of the next Scottish Parliament. The fear seems to be that support for the SNP might not be able to go any higher after the 2016 election, and to have a referendum when popularity starts to wane could be a risky business.

As positive as Nicola Sturgeon tried to sound about the SNP’s track record when announcing her latest programme for government, even her own supporters are becoming all too aware that the cracks are starting to show in day-to-day delivery of services.

The First Minister must decide on her priority for the next parliament. Delivering public services or another referendum. Based on the current term of the Scottish Parliament, if you choose the latter, the former will surely suffer.

Keith Howell, West Linton, Peeblesshire

Shamed by rivals in Euro 2016 bid

HISTORY repeats itself on the football field for Scotland as they fail in Georgia, and now they protrude like a sore thumb among the home international teams as the likely ­exception to Euro 2016 qualification. Yet both Irish teams, South and North, enlist players from the Scotland League clubs outwith Celtic and Rangers for their so far successful squads. Probably a resurgent Welsh side would be willing to do likewise. Yet not one member of the Scotland squad at present has current playing credentials outwith the Old Firm, but plenty former Old Firmers now playing with English clubs seem to be guaranteed inclusion in the Scotland squad.

It’s a pity the competition among the home nations, the respective league internationals, when only players actually playing with home league clubs were eligible, is no longer part of the football calendar.

Ian Johnstone, Peterhead

Help Assad bring peace to Syria

THE Tory government are right in stating that the only long-term solution to the Syrian shambles is the establishment of a competent, stable regime there. So why have they spent four-and-a-half years and £900 million attacking President Bashir Assad, the only one who could deliver that goal?

The US and UK have dredged the area looking for “moderate extremists” to back against Assad. The aid we give to these hapless groups is taken from them by Isis. The Assad regime protected and was supported by Christians and other minorities, and also by genuinely moderate Sunnis who wanted a law-abiding country. It could do so again.

If “the West” joins with Russia and Iran to back Assad, and also gives maximum support to the Kurds, then Assad can defeat Isis in Syria and the Kurds in northern Iraq. Has the UK government the courage to admit its mistake and create a coalition for peace?

John Smart, Lossiemouth

Big Bang didn’t exist for Einstein

EINSTEIN did not propose any theory about the origin of the universe (“Scottish space mission to boldly go after Einstein”, News, 6 September). In fact, originally, he thought the universe had always existed and bitterly regretted introducing a term into his equations to make his theory fit that idea. Otherwise he could have been the first to propose that the universe is expanding.

Nor do gravitational waves (predicted by Einstein) have anything to do with “the origins of life as we know it”. If they exist, they will merely (!) be caused by collapsing black holes or merging neutron stars.

Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh