The debate is raging in Scotland about the possibility of a ban on smoking in public places. The licensed trade has expressed concern about the economic impact of a ban. This is one point of view from within the trade.
By Mairi Clark
Former editor, Morning Advertiser Scotland
A blanket ban on smoking in Scotland's pubs is not the answer to halt the take-up of smoking among young people and to lead more people to quit.
All it will achieve is the closure of probably hundreds of Scotland's pubs and will put thousands of hospitality workers into unemployment.
Do ventilation systems in pubs work?
The licensed trade in Scotland has made an incredible amount of investment in ventilation systems and in providing non-smoking areas.
Banning smoking where people are eating is not a token gesture, it's good manners and many pubs and bars that take pride in their food offerings do so.
A recent trial of a ventilation system at Glasgow pub The Doublet showed that carcinogen levels fell to that of a non-smoking pub when the ventilation system was in operation.
So why is the anti-smoking lobby so desperate to rule the ventilation option out?
The Smoking Charter - a voluntary scheme set up by tobacco-funded group AIR - exceeded targets set by the government, yet the Scottish Executive ignores that.
Ireland's blanket ban
While it may not be perfect, it's certainly shown that the licensed trade is keen to work with the government rather than against it.
I'm astonished that First Minister Jack McConnell openly admits he's keen for a ban while there is an ongoing public consultation.
It makes a mockery of the whole idea of a transparent legislative system.
Much has been made of the blanket ban in Dublin and "how well it has worked".
A decision will be announced by ministers before the end of the year
Perhaps it has in the sunny months from March - when the ban was introduced - till now, but what November or January?
Give me the best patio heater in the world and I'll show you an empty car park of smokers in winter.
It won't work.
Even in the short time the ban's been enforced the first survey done has shown that trade has fallen 16%.
Footage from the BBC filmed when Mr McConnell was in Dublin showed disgruntled customers admitting that they will be staying at home in the winter.
The argument is not about public health.
I am forced to use trains, and I have the right to do that smoke-free. I am forced to use shopping malls and I have the right to do that smoke-free.
I am forced to work and I have the right to do that smoke-free? But pubs and bars? Come on.
The British Beer and Pub Association estimates a ban would see 5,000 pubs across the UK close and the loss of 75,000 jobs.
More money is spent on alcohol-related problems than tobacco-related and other drug-related problems so are we going to ban alcohol?
I'm not convinced the risks of passive smoking are as grave as the anti-smoking lobby would have us believe.
I believe there is a risk, albeit a small one, and that bar workers should be protected from it.
'Trade will suffer'
However, I think - and most licensees would prefer - a ban on smoking at the bar, a standard level of ventilation and an enforced percentage of Scotland's bars and pubs being given over to non-smoking areas as being better than a blanket ban.
The licensed trade is undoubtedly going to suffer.
Scotland has some 12,000 pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels, but that number is likely to fall dramatically as the ban - if implemented - takes its toll.
The British Beer and Pub Association estimates a ban would see 5,000 pubs across the UK close and the loss of 75,000 jobs.
The price tag? £3.5bn.
If you are to add in the cost of pubs complying with the proposed new licensing legislative system then that number will be far higher.
Added costs for training bar workers, the banning of drinks promotions and increasing red tape - all suggested parts of the new licensing act - will impact on the cost of going out.
More and more people will see the advantage of staying at home with their £10 case of beer from the supermarket and the freedom to smoke, so pubs will either have to shut or put their prices up. Perhaps the non-smokers will then start to consider the merits of ventilation.
When I returned to Glasgow Airport 18 months ago I found it shocking to see so much smoking in public. It seems like you are stuck in the past with this powerful smoking lobby pushing against any reforms. Smoking kills those who do and those who don't smoke in pubs. I cannot stand the smoke in the British pub. Wake up Scotland, smell the fresh air! The roaring fire in a lot of restaurants will still be pleasant but their smoke will go up the chimney. Pubs here are packed and people have just as much fun. Next thing you could increase the drinking age to 21 (like California) and see an improved crime rate, reduced driving deaths and improve the health of your youth.
Martin Deehan, Pleasanton, California USA
I favour on licences rather than off licences. Let people smoke in pubs where I don't have to go if I wish to avoid smoke.
Dave Brown, Perth Scotland
I am not at all surprised by the comments, by what are mostly non-smokers, it is obvious that they have NOT been inconvenienced. Please, everyone, look at the TAX brought to the Treasury by us smokers. Are you non-smokers going to be happy to pay extra tax, when the Chancellor can no longer bleed the smokers dry. I agree everyone should have a choice not to be forced into a smoky environment. Everyone DOES have a choice, except, it seems, smokers. I work for an American company based in Montgomery County, Maryland. The local council decreed that smoking be banned in ALL public places. Businesses report a 60% drop in trade. One of the few establishments to have a reprieve, at the moment, even has an outside bar - open on three sides to the elements. It is feared that even this would have to close in order to protect the bar staff who, without exception, are smokers.
Bob France, Woburn Sands, UK
Boo Hoo. Its 2004 and we know what smoking does. It kills. The doomsayers will be proven wrong and the pubs will now be visited by those who stayed away because of the stench . Quit crying
Chris, New Braunfels, Texas USA
I am forced to use trains and I have the right to do that smoke-free. I am forced to use shopping malls and I have the right to do that smoke-free - I am forced to work and I have the right to do that smoke-free? But pubs and bars? Come on. But people are forced to work in pubs and bars if they cannot find other jobs, so what makes it so special that your job can be smoke free, but not people who work in a pub/bar/club.
As usual when there are no facts to support them, people use scare tactics to say people will be laid off from work if you do that. In the USA where I now reside there are many, many towns where no smoking in bars and restaurants is allowed. No restaurant or bar to my knowledge has closed down. To the contrary, now many people go to restaurants and bars as they know they will have a smoke free environment.
wilson, loveland Colorado
I work in a very small basement bar, which is very, very smoky, especially at weekends. I am a non smoker, but in the last few weeks have been diagnosed with diseases that I am told only affect heavy smokers. I totally support a blanket ban, as it has been made very clear to me now, that the passive smoking problem I am experiencing has indeed shortened my life span. I am constantly feeling run down, exhausted, short of breath, and have constant mouth ulcers etc, due to the amount of passive smoke inhaled when I work. I feel that if this ban is not implemented, I have no other choice than to make myself unemployed in order to save my life.
John, Glasgow, Scotland
To Tony in Edinburgh - why did you choose to work in such an environment? The fact is MOST people who frequent bars smoke and you must have known this. Why is this debate hogged by the middle class led health conscious? I smoke, I enjoy a smoke, I pay for it dearly and all the places I drink in have the majority of their customers as smokers. So its clear, lets have non-smoking and smoking pubs - simple, but for some reason this proposal is a shout in the darkness.
Time for smokers to get angry I think.
California has a blanket ban on smoking in public places, and similar to NY, it has worked very well. If anything it has increased the business of certain restaurants and bars. I think its a lot worse for people who don't smoke to have to deal with a smoke filled room, than people who do smoke to have to go outside. It's a major health risk, there are no benefits to smoking, unlike alcohol. The UK can do research about how this policy has worked in other areas of the world and they will find that it is very beneficial for public health as well as businesses.
Anna , Redding, CA, USA
At a weekend I work in a bar. Several weeks ago my eyes became infected with conjunctivitis. On the Monday I started taking medication and by Friday my eyes were back to their usual self. However, after a night working in the bar on the Friday night, in a very smoky atmosphere, my eyes suffered a setback the following day. I pointed this out to the smokers in the bar and I was told "the customer is always right, and staff should put up with it". I was never against a total ban in bars, but my recent experience suggests that bar staff are being subjected to heavy smoke which can seriously effect their health. The attitude of the smokers I spoke to was totally selfish and in order to protect my health, I will support a total ban of smoking in any place the public have access to. Relying on the goodness of a smoker not to smoke in the presence of someone who obviously has eye problems has proved they have total disregard for the good health of others.
Tony, Edinburgh, Scotland
I don't believe places would shut down if an all out smoking ban happens. Already this program has been done in Norway and Ireland and the consensus is more people are going out as they can now go out and socialise without going home at the end of the night stinking of smoke.
Alan McLauchlan, Houston,TX
As an ex-pat Brit living in the US I have direct experience of what total smoking bans have done in New York City, Maryland and California. The thousands of jobs that were forecast to be lost haven't been. The smokers who may no longer go out have been replaced by non-smokers who are coming back to pubs now that they are some free. In the 21st century it is sad that this smoking in public places debate is still going on and on. Come on folks smoking both direct and passive kills and cost the state billions!
dave ropper, Virginia, USA
I am not a smoker myself but my husband is and I believe everyone can choose what they want to do in life, we stay in a lot cause of the smoking thing as I don't like smoky pubs, My husband is happy to stay home with me but if smoking was controlled in pubs and bars we might go out a bit more often. I don't mind anyone smoking but must admit hate it blown in my face at the bar I'm sure people don't mean to blow it in anyone's direction but I believe they are having a good time so yes I think it would be a great idea for pubs to sort this wee problem out and all customers now and in the future will be happy whether they are smokers or not.
New York State has a blanket ban on smoking in enclosed public places this includes pubs, restaurants and any other public building. It has worked out well here. The pubs and restaurants are still full. The bars are not closing right and left, and I get to go home at the end of the evening without smelling like the bottom of an ashtray
Jerry, Potsdam, NY
I'm just back from British Columbia, Canada, where a similar blanket ban on smoking in pubs, etc, was introduced some years ago. One bar owner informed me that in the first few months after the ban came in, he lost something like 60% of his business - so now they are *officially* non-smoking, but in practice, they just ignore the law. No ashtrays on the tables, but they'll hand you an empty beer bottle.
Jette, Edinburgh, Scotland
My last birthday was celebrated on the night Fort Collins, Colorado, became a non-smoking city in all workplaces including bars and restaurants. Since then, new bars have opened, existing bars have found food revenue has increased (and food sales normally pass money down a longer supply chain), and more importantly, many friends of mine who work in the bar industry have been able to give up smoking because they no longer have the constant temptation of seeing their customers drink. And for those who worry about using space heaters to allow people to smoke outside, they cope in Colorado when it is 20 below freezing!
Adam, Glasgow, Scotland