Mouthpiece: Ban reversal would be toxic

Smoke-free public place laws must remain, insists Sheila Duffy

Paul Waterson of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) has missed the point of smoke-free legislation (Evening News, June 6). It wasn't about stinging eyes and clothes smelling, it was about reducing people's exposure to a toxic substance in enclosed public places.

As well as being widely supported in terms of both public opinion and compliance, Scotland's smoke-free legislation has delivered major and proven health benefits.

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Research studies have shown reported improvements in bar workers' health and a 17 per cent reduction in hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome.

There's evidence of children's exposure being reduced as well as that of non-smoking adults, and of an 18 per cent reduction in child asthma admissions to hospital.

The smoking ban is working. A preliminary review of data on Scotland's hospitality sector showed no obvious effect on the sector overall.

It seems strange that Paul Waterson, who heard the evidence put to parliament and who sits on the ministerial group on tobacco, remains confused about the real health dangers of breathing tobacco smoke.

Perhaps he has been unduly swayed by a recent campaign orchestrated by the tobacco industry and timed for the run up to the July anniversary of smoke-free legislation in England, aimed at amending the Westminster smoking ban.

Since tobacco smoke was cleared from Scotland's public places, there has been an 89 per cent reduction in exposure amongst bar workers, and measurable improvements in their respiratory health.

These health gains are to be welcomed, and a relaxation of the law would almost certainly put those workers at risk again.

Why would anyone seek to compromise on or roll back those health gains?

• Sheila Duffy is chief executive of ASH Scotland