MSP tables plan for smoking ban

PROPOSALS to ban smoking in pubs and restaurants in Scotland are to be unveiled today.

Stewart Maxwell, an SNP MSP, is to launch a private members bill to regulate smoking in public places where food is served.

The bill has already gained the support of many charities and medical organisations and Mr Maxwell hopes it will also secure cross-party support in the Scottish Parliament.

If successful, the bill would mean that smokers who wanted to light up during or after a meal would have to go outside.

However, the prospect of a ban has enraged the smoking lobby, who claim it is an assault on their freedom to chose where to smoke.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Mr Maxwell said: "This bill is not designed to alienate smokers, but ensure that people can enjoy eating in a public place without being engulfed in smoke.

"Passive smoking is a huge threat to people’s health and while smokers have the right to smoke, they do not have the right to put the health of others at risk.

"Most organisations banned smoking in the workplace many years ago because of the threat that it posed to the health of employees and what my bill will do is take that one step further."

The proposed Regulation of Smoking Bill was drawn up in the last Scottish Parliament by the SNP MSP Kenny Gibson, but abandoned when he lost his Glasgow seat in the May elections.

The bill, which was proposed in 2001, attracted substantial cross-party support and was backed by health professionals.

Its main thrust would be to ban smoking in areas where food is served, such as restaurants, pubs and cafes.

While smokers would be allowed to light up in pubs where no food was served, pubs which sold food would have to ban smoking or stop serving food.

Last year, the Scottish Executive announced that it was to seek the public’s views on a smoking ban as part of its Tobacco Action Plan.

It also contains proposals to increase education to discourage young people from taking up the habit, as well as expanding services to help established smokers quit.