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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 13:46 GMT
Enforcers ready for smoking role
Man smoking
Officers will have to try and enforce the ban
Environmental health officers are ready to play their part in enforcing the ban on smoking in public places to be introduced in Scotland.

The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland (REHIS) said it fully expected to be called upon when legislation comes into force.

It added that extra resources would be needed to match the measures currently employed by health officers in Ireland.

Offenders will be fined and ultimately licences could be revoked.

John Sleith, spokesman for REHIS, said the organisation had already been involved in talks with the executive over how the ban would be enforced.

'Heavy fines'

Measures touted include the setting up of a confidential helpline for members of the public to report places where the new laws are being flouted.

Undercover officers would also be employed to visit bars and restaurants around the country to monitor customers' behaviour.

Mr Sleith said: "We fully expect to be called upon by the executive and our officers are ready to play their part.

"We have already been involved in the consultation process and would be looking to set up a system similar to that already in place in Ireland, which we know has proven to be very successful."

Our members have the experience required to protect public health through regulatory controls
Dr David Cameron
REHIS

But he stressed that any action taken by environmental health staff must be backed up by heavy fines for those found to be violating the ban.

Mr Sleith said: "In Ireland, people can be fined up to 3,000 euros for smoking where they shouldn't. In the case of a pub, the smoker can be fined along with the bar manager and the licensee of the premises.

"The fine also applies per violation, so if a smoker has five cigarettes, they would pay five times 3,000 euros.

"Ideally, that is the sort of hefty back-up we would like to see here."

'Experience and competence'

Scotland's environmental health staff are the best placed to monitor any new smoking policy, according to the institute's president Dr David Cameron.

He said: "Firstly, our members have the experience and competencies required to protect public health through regulatory controls.

"Secondly, our members are visiting pubs, restaurants and other public places on a daily basis as part of routine inspections for food safety and health & safety inspection programmes, as well as licensing visits, and noise control work.

"This means these officers are well placed to detect businesses that are turning a blind eye to the regulations."

REHIS represents more than 1,000 environmental, community and public health professionals within local government, health services, commerce and industry throughout Scotland.


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