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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Mixed reception for smoking ban
By Mona McAlinden
BBC Scotland news website

On the first day of Scotland's ban on smoking in public places, BBC Scotland's news website visited a pub in East Kilbride to see how the new law was being received.

Andy Kerr on the first day of the smoking ban
Mr Kerr with his wife and friends at the smoke-free Calderwood Inn

"No smell," remarked a smiling Andy Kerr, the health minister and architect of Scotland's smoking ban, as he walked into the Calderwood Inn in East Kilbride, just a few hours after the law came into force.

Mr Kerr, a former smoker, had been Scotland's political no-smoking champion since he became the minister for health and community care in October 2004.

Having been born and brought up in East Kilbride, Mr Kerr is aware that this small, old-style pub would be precisely the sort of outlet that would witness a sea-change with the introduction of the ban on Sunday.

Smoky haze

One regular claimed that about 70% of its customers were smokers.

The cosy nature of the pub, with its low ceilings, suggested that when smoking was permitted, there was no escape from the fumes.

Now that the much talked about ban has been introduced, there is an air about the place of something significant having happened.

The environment feels fresh and the familiar smoky haze has gone, replaced with a faint whiff of disinfectant.

As the bar slowly filled up, Mr Kerr was surrounded by no-smoking signs as well as numerous journalists and photographers.

Views on the smoking ban from across the country

He rated this moment as the pinnacle of his ministerial career and almost beamed with pride when describing the consequences he believed the legislation would have.

On the other side of the pub, a more disgruntled group of men had congregated.

One of the group, Craig Chalmers, predicted the ban would "ruin" Scotland's economy by forcing many smokers to stay at home.

The joiner from East Kilbride has smoked for the past 25 years and has no intention of giving up.

"I don't agree with a total ban, I think there should still be some smoking areas," he said.

"It'll ruin the Scottish economy, with the amount of smokers there are in this country. If they stop going out it will affect trade badly."

However, Mr Chalmers admitted that he and his friends would still go to the pub and said that the ban would help him cut down.

Calderwood Inn smoking area
The Calderwood Inn smokers' canopy

"We'll just have to stand outside to smoke, we've no other choice.

"But I think it'll hit working class people the hardest. The government will raise the tax on cigarettes even more now."

Behind the pub, the smokers' canopy has now been in use for the past couple of months.

Against the backdrop of this cold and dreary March day, the shelter does not appear too inviting.

Yet the heater gives welcome respite from the wind and the wall-mounted ashtrays are already filling up, signalling a taste of things to come.


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