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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Pub smoking ban 'may cost jobs'
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Smoking is a major cause of ill-health in Scotland
Licensees in Scotland are being told a ban on smoking in workplaces could cost jobs.

Irish publicans say a tobacco crackdown introduced in the Republic in March has led to a large fall in turnover.

The warning comes ahead of a visit by the First Minister Jack McConnell to Ireland to see how the ban is working.

Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, suggests a more gradual approach to changing the rules in pubs and restaurants.

He said: "Smoking should be banned in all public houses at the bar counter. This is what the staff want, this is what many customers are saying is the way forward and it's what we're proposing.

The ban was brought in specifically to vindicate the rights of the people who work in pubs and restaurants
Dr Michael Bolland
Office of Tobacco Control
"We're saying smoking should not be permitted in any area from which the public are excluded - so in staff rooms and so on."

But health officials in Ireland say the public supports the clean air drive.

Dr Michael Bolland, chairman of the Office of Tobacco Control in Ireland, insists the ban is the right action to take.

He argued: "We would very much welcome a move by the First Minister in that direction. Many other European countries are looking at what we've done.

"We've had enormous numbers of inquiries about why it was done and how it was done. There's a strong feeling, even among smokers, that this is a good idea."

Dr Bolland added: "It's worth remembering why it was brought in. It was brought in, not to annoy smokers - or even to try to reduce smoking generally.

"It was brought in specifically to vindicate the rights of the people who work in pubs and restaurants. They are entitled to a smoke-free workplace."

Consultation exercise

People in the Highlands have been putting forward their views on banning smoking in public places.

The latest in a series of meetings across Scotland took place in Inverness earlier this month.

Despite indicating opposition to an outright ban, the Scottish Executive has vowed that the consultation will have an impact on smoking policy.

The panel for the consultation included Deputy Minister for Health Tom McCabe.

Consultations have already been held in places including Dundee and Glasgow.

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