A ban on smoking on public places in Scotland is "workable", the Scottish Executive has said.
Smoking is a major cause of ill health in Scotland
First Minister Jack McConnell said that "there are lessons for us to learn" following his visit to Dublin to see the effects of Ireland's ban.
But a spokeswoman said that no date had been set for a change in smoking policy and a consultation was continuing.
One newspaper report on Wednesday said that a ban would be put in place on Sunday 26 March 2006.
A spokeswoman for the executive responded: "The visit to Dublin was part of our public consultation on a potential ban, which concludes at the end of the month.
"While no final decisions have been taken, the first minister said that there are lessons for us to learn from Ireland.
"He said we have to finish our consultation, we need to make a proper judgement and think through all the practicalities but that he was certainly much closer now to believing that an all-out ban, or something close to an all-out ban is at least workable.
"We now need to decide whether it is the right thing to do for Scotland.
"Ministers will announce their decision before Christmas after considering all the evidence gathered including the consultation responses."
A decision on the ban will be announced before Christmas
Irish Health Minister Micheal Martin has already advised Mr McConnell not to be worried about the backlash such a controversial move could provoke.
He told him during his visit: "The ordinary punter on the street wanted this to happen and it is they who made it happen.
"It has turned out to be a very popular measure and has transformed lives."
Smoking remains the biggest cause of preventable premature death and ill health and there is mounting evidence of the health risks of passive smoking.
Experts argue that 30 minutes' exposure is enough to reduce blood flow to the heart.
The Scottish National Party's Stewart Maxwell has already put forward a bill to bring in a limited ban on smoking where food is being served.
However pro-smoking groups have called for tolerance.
Here is a selection of your views on a proposed ban on smoking in public places.
Not a lot of point to having a public consultation process when the Scottish Executive already seems to have made a decision.Typical political pre-emptive manoeuvring - so long as you can fool most of the people most of the time! No doubt they'll introduce anti-smoking wardens also!
As an ex-smoker who still smokes when in the pub, I for one will be pleased to not have temptation put in my way and I'm sure barstaff will be happy for a better environment whether they smoke or not.
Gordon Patrick, Glasgow, UK
We have a total smoking ban on all indoor places here, pubs, restaurants, offices, etc. We have had it for several years. It works great. Business is up because the 75% who are non-smokers now go where they wouldn't before. I am looking forward to my trip to Ireland because now I can visit the pubs, which I never did in Scotland because of the smoke.
Sue Boatner, Victoria, Canada
I visit Scotland twice per year to visit family and the biggest problem I have is trying to find a place to eat that does not smell of smoke. The second hand smoke problem to peoples health must be herendous. Albuquerque banned smoking in public places last year and it has already made a big differance to the air quality of all restaurants and stores. Retailers have not seen a drop in their businesses due to this ban and I am sure this would be the case no matter where a person lives. Public health costs would also eventually begin to drop if a smoking ban was to take effect.
Bob Smith, Albuquerque . New Mexico, USA
Why not have a self-regulatory state, where licencees can decide whether to make their premises smoke free or not and clearly advertise it? That way it will make everyone happy, but licencees, especially the large chains, have a large responsibility to ensure that a certain number of their premises are kept smoke free. I just could not see areas in Govan or Maryhill to name but two, having smokers standing outside of pubs, puffing away. This will only lead to more trouble on the streets.
So let's see. There's to be a ban on fox hunting, teachers aren't now allowed to shout at children, parents can't slap their own children, you can't park outside a school. The list of bans goes on and on. People's freedom to be individuals is being slowly undermined. After banning smoking (which they will do regardless of the consultation results) then what next? Should they ban alcohol perhaps and so eliminate drink driving at a stroke? What about fatty foods? That's another good one for the axe. Why can't government get off our backs and do something constructive for a change?
Dick, Insch, Scotland
I stopped smoking many years ago but I disagree completely with the proposal that smoking in public places is banned. Pubs, restaurants, etc. are not publicly-owned - they are privately owned businesses and I don't think the executive should be interfering. Business premises should be encouraged to set up separate rooms/areas for smokers and improve the air conditioning.
Anne Aitken, Edinburgh
As a heavy smoker for 20 years (and who has unsuccessfully tried to stop many times) I would suffer if there was any type of complete ban on smoking. However, having a four-year-old son makes me realise that this may not help the current generation of adults but, with time, would be accepted as normal for future generations. If we cannot help ourselves then at least we can help our children
Stephen Hull, Rome, Italy
Having just spent some time in Ireland I can see why the government would consider following their lead - it provides a far more family friendly and pleasant place to spend an afternoon or an evening without the smoke. However, being with friends that smoke and trying to have a conversation is nigh on impossible, as they flit in and out of the bar, huddling in the rain - amusing. So, what I'd propose is that the ban is put in place but then bars and nightclubs that wish to apply for a "smoking licence" are allowed to do so, provided they have reasonable ventilation etc. This maintains the "right to smoke", albeit in certain establishments and could go someway to refurbishing some of the shoddier establishments as owners are forced to upgrade their ventilation systems to retain their smoking punters.
Joe Mackie, Glasgow, Scotland
As a Scot currently living in Ireland I can see that the smoking ban here has been a great success. Publicans were afraid they would lose business but the non-smoking majority can now enjoy a night out and not go home stinking of second-hand smoke. Scotland should lead the UK by introducing a similar ban as soon as possible.
William McLaren, Dublin, Ireland
I am well in favour of the ban as I am quite a bad sufferer of asthma. I find it very hard sometimes to be able to go out with my friends and family as no matter what pub/club I go to I end up having to leave early due to all the smoke in the place. I think that there should be areas in public places like there was in my last place of work where smokers were allowed to go and it was well ventilated. This way I would not need to breath second hand smoke and cause my asthma to get worse.
Michael O'Malley, Glasgow, Scotland
I only have a ciggie when I'm enjoying a drink. That said - maybe it will prompt myself and others to give up. Then when the government ain't getting our ciggie tax then let's see what the non-smokers say about that. They'll leave it a while until we forget about the not smoking in public then wham... tax will go up and it will be equal for all. That should give the non-smokers something to fume about!!
Helen, Ayr Scotland
If BP at Grangemouth released cancerogenic smoke and endangered their workers' health the unions and HSE would be down on them like a ton of bricks. How come they do nothing about the health of bar staff and the cancerogenic smoke they are forced to inhale? We don't need new laws just enforce the existing ones! Of course the majority of bar staff are non-unionised part-timers, women and students so the Labour Party does not care about them and hence no action is taken over smoking in bars.
Neil Brown, Aberdeen
It is going to happen anyway, the decision has been made and the consultation exercise is a sham as usual. Get used to it.
Jim Burns, Glasgow, Scotland
As a former smoker and a non drinker I find the level of intolerance on the message board frightening.This government like all its predecessors loves the duty it gets from alcohol and tobacco despite may health issues connected to both products. Many of your contributors talk of how lovely things will be for visitors well take a look at whats happened in parts of the USA (I have not been to Ireland since the ban) with smokers all congregating outside buildings. It looks awful. If we really do wnat democracy then why not a referendum on such an issue? Democracy by public announcements is what we supposedly went to Iraq to stop!
Ian Ferguson, France
Having been in Ireland recently, I can say it was a delight to be able to go out for an evening without waking up feeling like an ashtray the next day. I was with smokers, and they delighted in the cameraderie amongst fellow smokers outside the pubs. In fact they said that all single people in Ireland should take up smoking for this reason!
Jan, Edinburgh, Scotland
I've been in establishments where they have fitted well-designed aircon that means that you smoke is rapidly removed, so that even if the table next to you is smoking you are not affected. It is a shame that those who have responsibly invested in this will be penalised! The law should make all businesses provide smoke free areas, and should use testing equipment to make sure these are effective, but a blanket ban is a step too far.
Another case of who shouts loudest will determine the outcome (pretty much a foregone conclusion). If we cannot look after our elderly at present, why are we intent on prolonging life? In my pub last night there were two staff for four customers a result of a new policy of no smoking at the bar.
Ian McKay, Aberdeen Scotland
The smoking ban is not working in Ireland - sales are down about 25%, and that during the summer when standing outside a pub is an option. It has been a disaster.
Des Johnston, Dublin
It would be nice to think that it would be possible to require smoke-free areas or, perhaps better put, to allow areas in public buildings (such as pubs or the airport) where smoking is permitted, with adequate ventilation (which is possible), rather than putting in place an outright and complete ban.
A little tolerance is helpful, and has always been one of the things I have liked about Scotland. We do not have it in the US, which is one of the least tolerant countries in the world in some ways -- and what one does in some areas, such as smoking, reflects one's attitudes in many areas; intolerance in any area is sad.
Jamie, New Hartford, CT USA
Smoking should be banned in all public places in Scotland. I am aware that the area around the bar is kept smoke-free but how can people stand in this area and drink without getting in the way of people trying to buy drinks? Smoke obviously filters around the room so 'smoke free areas' are a joke especially as the pub gets busier and people ignore the boundaries.
I would hate for the ban to create groups of people hanging about outside pubs, puffing as quickly as they can and then throwing the ends on the street. Smokers will see the ban as a punnishment and blame the Government for their need to litter and crowd the streets.
What smokers should do is take the public ban as an opportunity to quit. The Scottish Executive should boost all national advertising and provide advice and positive help to all smokers.
Yet again this government is about to take the important decision out of our hands. It seems that as the government made such a wonderful job in deciding how much we should spend on their office accomodation, it should make other major decisions, that we are obviously incapable of making ourselves.
I recently spent a couple of days in the Republic of Ireland, it hasn't stopped them smoking, its only driven them out on the streets. It will be interesting to see what happens in the winter.
What's next, you can't have a hamburger if you are over seven stones, because that's bad for your health, you can't have more than four drinks on a night out, because Jack says that's binge drinking. At least let the owners of pubs, clubs etc make their own decisions. I already have a wife, I don't need a nursemaid as well
Hugh Mckeown, Scotland
I support a ban, as an asthmatic I'd love to be able to eat in restaurants and visit pubs without having to search out the few that provide a non smoking area. Remember the proposed ban is only on smoking in enclosed public spaces so smoking won't actually be banned, just restricted.
At last. A radical proposal that will improve lives. Someone south of the border should watch and learn. It beats wasting millions on speed cameras that target innocent motorists rather than saving lives.
I stayed in Dublin and Galway during the summer while on holiday. I found the change of going away from a night out not smelling like an ashtray quite pleasant. I am not fully against smoking in public even when food is involved as there are other methods to reduce risk to health and the unpleasant smell smoke creates.
Any restaurant or bar with a good enough air conditioning system fitted will reduce the amount of smoke lingering in the atmosphere. There are many places in Edinburgh and Glasgow with the facilities in which you can spend most of the night and not smell of smoke when you leave.
Brian (Non-Smoker), Saltcoats, Scotland
Bring it on. I will then be able to go into a pub to enjoy a pint. Landlords may lose some smokers, but they will certainly gain non-smokers who will gladly enjoy the smoke-free atmosphere.
If smokers didn't affect people around them, then I would advocate their right to light up anywhere, but the fact is that it does and it's time a ban on smoking in public places was implemented - now. Not in 2006.
H.L, St Andrews, Fife
I support the idea of a ban in public places. Why should smokers have a right to smoke in places where they are actually harming other people's health?
Philip Campbell, Edinburgh, Scotland
For the first time the majority of people may be able to exercise their right not to catch cancer off the smokers.
Maurice Greene, Glasgow
I am all in favour of people smoking but please leave me to enjoy a meal or a drink without having to try and avoid smokers. They always seem to come and sit beside me when I'm half way through a meal.
J.Brunton, Dunbar and East Lothian
Why is a Labour administration so keen to penalise its natural supporters? Smoking is overwhelmingly a working/welfare class pastime, and smokers are far more likely to vote Labour than, say, Tory.
So why is the Scottish Executive setting out to alienate so many of its voters? It makes Labour seem bossy, out of touch with its natural support and over-influenced by its coalition partners, the Lib Dems.
Phil, Edinburgh, Scotland
If it's going to save lives of workers then it should happen. In this day and age it should be stopped in public places, it's going to happen sooner or later!
Stuart Ross, Dundee, UK
A total ban on smoking in public places would be excellent. No more choking for breath or clothes smelling of smoke. It is about time smokers (the minority) were inconvenienced, rather than non-smokers (the majority). Any policy which tries to prevent 13,000 deaths a year can only be a good thing.
Beecher, Glasgow, Scotland
Excellent, now I have a chance to go and enjoy some nightlife for a change. Move over smokers, let us have a go at "being in control".
Phil Thompson, Aberdeen , Scotland
And here was I thinking I lived in a democracy where the people decide. We didn't get any say on the new Scottish Parliament which we have to pay to get to see. It's a low turnout at the elections that gives politicians the misguided vision that any idea they have is a great one.
Father Jack is providing us with example after example of this and his latest scheme is yet another indication of his complete ineptitude/contempt for the people of Scotland.
The smoking ban isn't working in ireland. Just by releasing statements to the media saying everything is okay doesn't necessarily mean it is. By drafting new laws without public consultations we are falling deeper and deeper into a nanny or dare I say it totalitarian state.
It can't come soon enough. It would make Scotland a more attractive place for visitors.
Alistair Gaw, Edinburgh
In a country with one of the highest heart diseases in the world, it would certainly save lives. It would also stop me being forced to breath in second hand smoke at work and we won't feel like we are causing trouble when we do complain about it.
Let's show the world that Scotland can lead the world in this, that we can set an example to our children and to other countries children and say we care about you, and we want you to have the best chance for a good and healthy life. Let's support all those that want to give up smoking, and prevent our children starting to smoke. Its a great idea and the Scots have the courage to do it.
Scott Wallace, UK
I have no tolerance for smoking in enclosed public places. Smokers should not be allowed to damage other people┐s health for the sake of their own pleasure/addiction.
Smoking in public is increasingly seen as anti-social behavior by the (broadly silent) majority of non-smokers, and this point of view should be enshrined in law to the benefit of that majority.
I have heard the argument in the press that we can't ban smoking in public places as it is the only pleasure that some people have. My reply to that is that these people need to get a life.
Regardless of the various arguments propounded by the Pro Smoking Lobby, no argument can overturn the need to protect the health of the majority. A way will have to be found to make the ban a reality. Passive smoking is such an insidious yet obvious risk that it must be dealt with.
Craig Sim, Aberdeen, Scotland