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Last Updated: Saturday, 2 October, 2004, 17:49 GMT 18:49 UK
Lib Dems back reforms on smoking
Smoking barred sign
A majority of delegates supported a ban
The Scottish Lib Dems have backed the prospect of legislation banning smoking in enclosed public places.

Despite concerns from some in the party, delegates at their autumn conference endorsed the measure.

The Scottish Executive consultation on the issue of smoking in public places closed this week and the results are being studied.

The call for a ban was led by Mike Rumbles, party health spokesman and MSP for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine.

Mr Rumbles said voluntary measures had failed and it was up to the Labour/Liberal Democrat coalition in the executive to take action.

He said: "We don't want to ban smoking in public places because we don't like it, or because it would be good for the health of smokers, and we don't want to ban people from smoking.

It's a small liberty that harms the health and well-being of other individuals, and our society as a whole
Margaret Smith MSP
"What we do want to do is ban smoking in public places to protect non-smokers from the clear health hazard that passive smoking causes."

But delegate Andy Myles, a smoker, said he did not like banning things and he did not think it particularly liberal.

He said: "If I want to have the liberty I've had all my life to have a pint of beer and a cigarette in a pub with other smokers, I should have that choice.

"It's not a big liberty, it's not freedom of expression or freedom of speech - it's a small liberty, and it's one of those small liberties that makes up our liberal democracy and our free society."

Edinburgh West MSP Margaret Smith said: "It's a small liberty that harms the health and well-being of other individuals, and our society as a whole - and it harms the health service to the tune of 200m a year."

However, delegate Neil Craig said that he would be very sorry to see the Lib Dems leading the way toward the "effective criminalisation" of tobacco.

Ian Gibson, director of a cancer charity, said that entertainer Roy Castle did not smoke but he died of lung cancer because he had worked in pubs and bars.

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