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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 July, 2004, 08:23 GMT 09:23 UK
Galbraith calls for smoking ban
Sam Galbraith is a former health minister
The former Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith has said that the Scottish Executive should move quickly to ban smoking in public places.

He said it should also consider laws to tackle alcohol abuse and obesity.

Mr Galbraith said now was an opportune moment to act and that politicians should be brave enough to take tough and unpopular decisions.

He said giving health advice would only work to a certain extent and sometimes "nanny state" legislation was needed.

Statutory action

Mr Galbraith told BBC Scotland's Sunday Live: "Getting people to change their lifestyle and all the efforts we have made over the years has just been money down a black hole.

"It has been essentially ineffective and part of the reason for that is that you have got to change the life circumstances as well as changing the lifestyles."

The former minister said: "The area we have always been lacking in is actually taking some statutory action.

"We've been frightened to do this because everyone calls you a nanny state.

"This is an opportune moment for statutory action. For introducing various bans and curtailments. Therefore I think we will bitterly regret it if we let it slip by this time."

Mr Galbraith, a former neurosurgeon, was minister for health at the Scottish Office in the run-up to devolution in 1999.

If you are a popular politician after five years in government then you have not done anything
Sam Galbraith

With the formation of the Scottish Parliament he became education minister before resigning on health grounds in 2001.

The former MP and MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden was one of the first people in Europe to undergo a lung transplant in 1990.

He said that during his time in politics he had taken many unpopular decisions and saw that as part of the politicians job.

He said: "My view of a politician is that if you are not unpopular as a politician then you are not doing any good.

'Stop smoking'

"People find change difficult. The job of a politician is to ensure that happens. The result of that is that politicians become unpopular.

"If you are a popular politician after five years in government then you have not done anything."

He also called for statutory action to reduce salt in foods and the withdrawal of fizzy drinks from schools.

Scottish National Party MSP Stewart Maxwell, who has introduced a member's bill to ban smoking in public places serving food, welcomed Mr Galbraith's call for a smoking ban.

He said: "The priority for us all must be to protect the health of non-smokers in Scotland and the best way to do this is to implement a ban as quickly as possible and MSPs can do this by voting for my bill in the Autumn."

The executive is conducting a public consultation until September to see if people want a new law introduced to stop smoking in public places.

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