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Last Updated: Sunday, 26 March 2006, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Smoking ban
On Sunday 26 March 2006 Andrew Marr interviewed Jack McConnell MSP, Scotland's First Minister

Please note "BBC Sunday AM" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used.

Jack McConnell MSP
Jack McConnell MSP, Scotland's First Minister

ANDREW MARR: Jack McConnell, this is a big moment in your administration's history as it were, six o'clock this morning. How toughly are you going to enforce this ban, because a lot of people will take a lot of getting used to it won't they?

JACK McCONNELL: I'm sure that will be the case, but at the same time this is the single biggest measure that we could take to improve public health in Scotland. I think it will transform the culture of Scotland for future generations and I'm sure that the vast majority of people in Scotland will want to make it work.

ANDREW MARR: It is a very tough ban in the sense that it applies to bus shelters and all sorts of places. And indeed there are some councils in Scotland who are effectively going to ban their employees from smoking at all during working hours. Do you believe or accept that this is the toughest smoking ban outside California?

JACK McCONNELL: Well, I think across the world there is a change taking place and we will see smoke bans in many more countries in the years to come. I also think though that it's important to realise that we're not banning smoking, we're not banning the freedom of choice for people to smoke, but we are saying that passive smoking is unacceptable.

We are saying that there is a culture, particularly in Scotland, with their appalling record of heart disease, stroke and cancer, that here we have to have a radical change in that culture. We want younger generations to be able to start to go to work, to socialise in smoke-free atmospheres in the hope that they will not start smoking in the first place, or if they try it they'll find it much easier to give up.

ANDREW MARR: And how many prosecutions do you think you're going to have to have before people start to get the message, because I was in Edinburgh a few days ago, every single pub, every single restaurant, lots and lots of people still smoking?

JACK McCONNELL: Well, I think we've got to be realistic about this. There are going to be people who will be inconvenienced by the ban. I actually think it will be as much a problem in cafes as it will be in pubs. But I also believe that Scotland's a law-abiding country, people will want to make this ban work in practice. I think, well, we will see some people resisting over the early days.

The vast majority of Scots support the ban. The vast majority of Scots don't smoke, the vast majority of Scots who do smoke want to give up. And therefore I think we can see, we can see first of all the ban working, but also a real change in the health culture of Scotland over the coming months and years.

ANDREW MARR: What's the logic of allowing smoking in prisons, as indeed in submarines?

JACK McCONNELL: Well there are places where people obviously sleep at night, which are effectively their place of residence, and that is why we've had to exempt for example designated rooms in care homes, designated rooms in prisons, designated rooms in psychiatric hospitals, and so on. It would be, I think, entirely unreasonable for us not to take those measures.

But we've been consistent in the application of this ban to public places, because that makes it easier to enforce. It means the public understand the ban clearly. Visitors to our country will understand the ban clearly. And as a result of that I think not only is the ban easier to enforce, but our reputation as a country for good law enforcement but more importantly a healthy lifestyle will improve as the years go by.

ANDREW MARR: I must ask you about one other story, from your neck of the woods, that you've been talking about. The search for a new Scottish anthem, em, The Scots Wha-hay, which a lot of people would expect is the national anthem. There's the Flodin song that we know and love from the rugby field. Why the need for a new one?

JACK McCONNELL: Well I'm not convinced there is a consensus on a new one, but it's obviously an issue that we need to discuss. We sing different songs at rugby and football matches than we do, for example, play at the Commonwealth Games. We've all been very, very proud of our team's performance over the last ten days. The best team performance by a Scottish team ever outside of the UK.

But they've chosen to play Scotland The Brave because it's stirring and it's appropriate when the flag is being raised. But there are many choices available to us, and I think there's going to be a bit of a public debate, hopefully led by sports people and musicians rather than by politicians, over the coming months and years. And perhaps at some stage in the future we'll manage to reach a conclusion.

ANDREW MARR: Well Jack McConnell thank you very much indeed.

INTERVIEW ENDS


NB: this transcript was typed from a recording and not copied from an original script.

Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for its accuracy


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