Smoking ban 'will save Scotland £4bn'
BANNING smoking will leave Scotland £4.2 billion a year better off, new research claimed today.
The results of an independent study on the financial impact of the ban were published as the Scottish Executive spelled out for the first time which places would be covered by the new law and revealed the limited list of exemptions.
Only a handful of places, including old people’s homes, hospices and psychiatric hospitals, will be permitted to let smokers carry on puffing.
Researchers assessed the costs and savings involved in the Executive’s proposed total ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces, compared to a voluntary approach and with a ban which exempted pubs, clubs and hotels. And they concluded the total ban produced by far the biggest overall saving.
They said a total ban would benefit the economy by 2.3 billion in lives saved and a further 1.9bn in productivity gains, reduced sickness absences, savings on NHS treatment and reduced cleaning and decorating costs.
The research, commissioned by the Executive from Aberdeen University, claimed 1.4bn would be saved simply through productivity gains because of reduced smoking breaks.
They estimated the hospitality sector would lose 28m from a total ban, but the only other significant costs would be 49m for enforcement.
The study said exempting pubs, clubs and hotels from the ban would have reduced the financial benefit dramatically to 2.5bn. And it claimed a voluntary approach - including a ban on smoking while food is being served and a gradual increase in smoke-free areas - would have benefited the economy by just 315 million.
Health Minister Andy Kerr said: "This document shows that going for a full and comprehensive piece of legislation on smoking in public places would save more lives and be better for the economy than less stringent regulations.
"I am convinced that this legislation will be a historic turning point for the health of the Scottish people."
The Executive published a long list of places which will be classed as "non-smoking" and covered by the ban, including offices, factories, hospitals, churches and educational institutions, as well as pubs, clubs and discos. And it also published a much smaller list of the places where smoking would still be permitted.
Apart from people’s own homes and cars, the list of exemptions included only adult care homes, adult hospices, psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric units, oil rigs, designated hotel bedrooms and designated police rooms.
But even these places will be obliged to ensure there are smoke-free areas for non-smokers.
Mr Kerr stressed all licensed premises would be covered by the ban.
And he emphasised exemptions were only being allowed on "humanitarian" grounds.
He added: "The case for reducing smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke in order to improve health is absolutely indisputable, which makes this the most important piece of public health legislation in a generation."
The list of exemptions is included as part of the regulations which will govern the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill, now being considered by MSPs on the Scottish Parliament’s health committee.
The regulations will now go out to consultation over the next few months with a view to parliament passing the Bill before the summer and the ban coming into effect in spring next year.
Mr Kerr said: "The regulations set out exactly what we intend to be the effect of the Bill and clarify the very few places which we think should be exempt.
This legislation needs to be as comprehensive as possible in order to be effective.
"Where we do propose exemptions, for example in adult care homes, we will ensure there are smoke-free policies in place. There will also be support for residents to help them quit smoking."
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