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Last Updated: Sunday, 7 November, 2004, 17:24 GMT
Publicans 'will fight' smoking ban
Cigarette - generic
Ministers will announce their decision on Wednesday
Ministers have been warned that Scotland's publicans will fight "tooth and nail" to stop plans for an outright ban on smoking on their premises.

Paul Waterson, of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said publicans do not agree with a total ban and fear it could destroy their businesses.

However, SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell, who backs a ban, said "nothing less" than a total clampdown would be acceptable.

The Scottish Cabinet will consider its decision on Wednesday.

A public consultation on the issue of smoking in public places attracted a record number of responses to such an exercise since devolution.

First Minister Jack McConnell said "there are lessons for us to learn" following a visit to Dublin to see the effects of the Republic of Ireland's ban.

I would like to hear the executive announce on Wednesday that we're getting a full public places ban. I think nothing less is acceptable
Stewart Maxwell
SNP MSP
He has expressed a willingness to move swiftly to effect change for the good of public health.

However, Mr Waterson told BBC Radio Scotland's Sunday Live programme that while his members were backing new curbs, a full ban would be disastrous for the trade.

He said: "We fully endorse the (Scottish) Executive's desire to tighten smoking policy. But we still believe that we don't have to go from nothing to a total ban.

"We have compromise proposals on the table, they are fair, we believe they are workable and we think that we don't have to go to a full ban here.

"We'll wait to see what Jack McConnell says on Wednesday but certainly we will fight a ban tooth and nail."

However, West of Scotland MSP Mr Maxwell said: "I would like to hear the executive announce on Wednesday that we're getting a full public places ban. I think nothing less is acceptable.

No smoking sign
The Republic of Ireland introduced a ban
"If the executive back away at this late stage then I think they will be seen to be caving in both to the tobacco industry and to the Westminster government."

Mr Maxwell said there was no evidence from other places where a ban has been put in place, including New York and the Irish Republic, that trade would be ruined by the ban.

Mr Waterson described that as "misinformation" and said there was "much evidence" of a negative impact.

He said: "There are 23 million fewer pints being sold in Ireland since the ban came in in March, we know that businesses are down 20 to 25%."

BBC Scotland political correspondent Glenn Campbell said the "mood music" suggested an outright ban would be on the table.

We have made it clear that we are committed to introducing more smoke-free public places in Scotland
Spokeswoman for ministers
He said: "When the first minister, who originally was a sceptic about taking this kind of action, went to Dublin and saw the ban that was implemented there he started to make noises that he was becoming increasingly convinced that kind of radical action was what was required .

"At the end of that trip he was talking about something approaching a total ban at the least being workable in Scotland."

A Scottish Executive spokeswoman said it was taking account of a wide range of views in making a decision.

She said: "We have made it clear that we are committed to introducing more smoke-free public places in Scotland.

"The cabinet will consider a whole package of responses and supporting materials on 10 November with an announcement on the way forward to follow shortly after."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
What Scottish people think of a smoking ban



SEE ALSO:
Smoking banned at rugby stadium
06 Nov 04 |  Scotland
Record response to smoking survey
24 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Smoking ban consultation closes
01 Oct 04 |  Scotland
Doctors deliver smoking ban call
29 Sep 04 |  Scotland
SNP votes for public smoking ban
24 Sep 04 |  Scotland
Lobby advocates choice on smoking
08 Sep 04 |  Scotland


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