All bars to face total smoke ban
THE Scottish Executive today walked into a legal storm as it revealed exactly how far-reaching its smoking ban will be.
Offices and private clubs have been included in the first official definition of "enclosed premises" where the ban will apply.
The definition is included in the Smoking Health and Social Care Bill published today.
Everything from supermarkets to universities and colleges will be covered by the ban, which will cover all places used "wholly or mainly as a place of work".
All educational and health institutions are specifically covered. But the most controversial step will be the ban in private clubs, which is likely to spark a legal challenge.
Working Men’s Clubs, traditionally bedrocks of Labour support, and Royal British Legion clubs will be hit by the ban. Upmarket members’ clubs such as the Hallion and the Scotch Whisky Society will also be affected.
The drinks industry today ordered lawyers to study the detailed proposals in order to prepare a legal challenge.
Scottish Licensed Trade Association president Alastair Don pledged to try to overturn the all-out ban in the courts. He added: "Everyone, we accept, is against
smoking, saying it’s bad for your health, but the whole consultation has been a sham."
Health Minister Andy Kerr today shrugged off the threat as he unveiled the bill at the non-smoking Black Swan pub in Leith, saying: "I am absolutely confident that any legal challenge that comes our way, we can deal with."
Mr Kerr also announced around 1 million will be given to councils to allow them to recruit more environmental health officers to enforce the ban.
Chief Medical Officer for Scotland Mac Armstrong, who joined Mr Kerr for the launch, said the ban would save the lives of more than 400 Scots who die each year from the effects of passive smoking.
The legislation will make it an offence to light up from spring 2006. The pub trade fears its business will be decimated, with the loss of 30,000 jobs.
Pub licensees and others who fail to enforce the law could face fines of up to 2500. Persistent smokers who defy a ban could be fined up to 1000.
No exemptions have been given to the ban, but some exceptional cases are expected to be drafted into the Bill. These may include prisons, care homes and hospices - in effect, public buildings which are also private homes from home.
Including private members’ clubs in the definition of public places will enrage smokers in many of Scotland’s Labour clubs, who donate substantial amounts of money to the party. First Minister Jack McConnell has been warned he risks alienating many Labour voters, but is adamant he is doing the right thing.
At today’s launch, Mr Kerr added: "Every day 35 Scots die before their time because of smoking-related diseases. This is our 35-a-day habit and we have got to kick it.
"The case for reducing smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke to improve health is indisputable. We will deliver for the sake of future generations who’ll be able to breathe clean air wherever they go."
The new Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill also contains plans to make dental and eye care free for all.
A Smoke Free Areas Implementation Group is being set up to advise the Executive how to bring in the ban across Scotland.
A Whitehall minister has had to apologise to the Scottish Parliament after his department legislated for Scotland by mistake.
The blunder was only noticed after the Housing Act of 2004, which gives greater protection to caravan park owners, received Royal Assent and went on the statute book.
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said today: "This is highly regrettable. However, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has apologised."
The apology came from Keith Hill, a minister at that department.
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Saturday 25 May 2013
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