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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 November, 2004, 18:51 GMT
First minister's speech in full
First Minister Jack McConnell during smoking speech
Jack McConnell made his speech following a cabinet meeting
The first minister made his historic announcement to introduce a public smoking ban in Scotland to parliament on Wednesday, 10 November.

Jack McConnell's decision followed a full cabinet meeting where he and ministers decided to proceed with an all-out ban across the country.

This is his statement in full to MSPs:



This is a great time in Scotland's history. Our parliament grows in confidence and effectiveness; our economy is strong and employment rates are high; our public services are improving lives with higher levels of achievement in education and more lives saved by our health services; and poverty is decreasing, particularly amongst children and pensioners.

Internationally we have an increasingly positive profile. Our universities are admired, our artists are celebrated and visitors to Scotland increase in number, and they spend more money when they are here.

Scotland is a country of great talent, of enterprise, compassion and tolerance.

In comparison with the rest of the UK, with Europe and with too many countries worldwide, our mortality and morbidity rates across far too many indicators are lamentable
But there are still national habits which hold us back.

The time has come for this parliament to accelerate our action on health improvement.

The problem - in comparison with the rest of the UK, with Europe and with too many countries worldwide, our mortality and morbidity rates across far too many indicators are lamentable.

Poor diet, excessive drinking, lack of exercise and drug abuse all contribute to making us one of the unhealthiest nations in Europe.

Too many people smoke and too many people die or fall ill from cancer, stroke and heart disease - the top three killer conditions that blight our country.

Since devolution our action, investment and focus has been on tackling those three killers and we are making progress: rates of death from heart disease have fallen by 14.1%; from stroke by 15.3%; and from cancer, for those under 75, by 5.7%.

Premature death

We have also taken action on diet and exercise, on alcohol and on drug misuse. And I believe we are making progress there too.

But the single largest cause of preventable premature death in Scotland is smoking.

Smoking levels in Scotland are falling, but smoking amongst young women is increasing at a worrying level and it is increasingly clear that passive smoking affects us all.

We made a clear commitment in our partnership agreement to increase the number of smoke free areas in Scotland.

We have consulted more widely than on any other issue since devolution and few issues have generated so much sustained debate

In support of this, we launched our tobacco action plan in January 2004 and embarked on a comprehensive consultation on smoking in public places.

We conducted an opinion poll. We commissioned research on passive smoking and research on the impact of smoking legislation in other countries; we held public meetings all over Scotland, surveyed young Scots and hosted an international conference in Edinburgh to consider international expertise.

I also visited Ireland to see the effects of their smoking legislation at first hand.

This was a comprehensive consultation that sought views, sparked debate and gave all sides in the debate the opportunity to put their case.

Sustained debate

I would like to record my appreciation of the early steps that Tom McCabe took to take this consultation forward and also to Stewart Maxwell for raising the issue too here in parliament.

We conducted these assessments of impact and of opinion fairly, thoroughly and thoughtfully.

We have consulted more widely than on any other issue since devolution and few issues have generated so much sustained debate.

We know that the case for reducing smoking and exposure to second hand smoke is indisputable:

  • 13,000 families a year in Scotland lose a loved one through smoking related deaths, and around a thousand of these are associated with passive smoking

  • 35,000 Scots are treated every year for smoking related diseases

  • and 17000 children in the UK under the age of five are admitted to hospital each year because of the effects of passive smoking

But the consultation has provided new evidence on the impact of smoking bans and a greater range of information on public opinion:

Here is the evidence:

  • The smoking ban in Ireland and in New York has helped smokers give up quicker and encouraged current smokers to smoke less

  • Cigarette sales have dropped by 13% in New York and by 16% in Ireland

  • Our research estimates that there will be a net economic benefit for the Scottish economy as a result of any ban, not a disadvantage

  • Tax revenues from bars and restaurants in New York have increased by almost 9% since their ban was introduced

  • And despite the dire warnings, the first official figures from Ireland show volume sales down just 1.3%, and they were falling before the ban became law

The majority of Scots don't smoke and, of those who do, the majority want to give up.

There is widespread support across Scotland for a ban on smoking in public places but there is also support for exemptions.

But the international evidence shows that a comprehensive, clear-cut law to create smoke-free areas is more enforceable and effective.

We have considered the arguments and the evidence, and we are clear that Scotland must not be held back by our poor public health
And critically, medical opinion highlights the impact that active and passive smoking have on our national health and medical bodies, cancer charities and others want us to take a clear and decisive step forward.

So having consulted more widely than ever before, the Scottish cabinet met this morning to consider the action we will take on smoking in public places.

We had in front of us reports on the consultation and on the impact of smoking legislation.

We noted the strong support for a comprehensive ban, and we noted the reservations of many on the detail.

But we also noted the unequivocal evidence that smoke-free public areas will save lives and improve Scotland's national health.

Comprehensive ban

We noted the evidence that productivity will increase and the expectation that we will be a more confident and attractive country if we take action on smoking in enclosed public spaces.

We have considered the arguments and the evidence, and we are clear that Scotland must not be held back by our poor public health.

The single biggest contribution that our devolved government, and elected MSPs, can make to improving public health in Scotland would be to reduce the toll of preventable, premature deaths from smoking.

Man smoking in Cafe Royal Bar Edinburgh
Smoking will be banned from all public places across Scotland

So I am proud to announce to parliament today that we will, with your support, introduce a comprehensive ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.

It will be a comprehensive ban and a comprehensive ban will be a clear signal that Scotland has changed.

It will reduce smoking, save lives and help transform our national health.

It will be easier to enforce and simpler to understand than other options that would fall short of that.

Private clubs will not be exempt, the only exemptions will be in private and specific circumstances.

There will be opposition to this decision, but this parliament must do what is right in the national interest.

And we must persuade those with reservations to embrace the opportunities it will create.

Health transformation

For individuals the opportunity to cut down or to stop.

And the opportunity for our children and grandchildren to grow up with less pressure to smoke, and less likelihood of dying early.

For the hospitality industries, improved productivity, a whole new positive image and more customers, not fewer.

For Scotland, the opportunity to transform our national health.

We will also take steps to implement this decision together with those who are affected, not seek simply to impose it on those who are addicted, or worried about their business.

We will:

  • Establish a National Smoke Free Areas implementation group, chaired by the health minister and we will invite the licensed trade and others to join that group and assist us in this task.

  • Double our health service support for those who want to stop smoking and need help to do so

  • And we will prepare an international marketing campaign to promote Scotland as a country where tourists can enjoy a smoke free environment, where business can expect improved health and productivity and where our sick man of Europe image is firmly in the past

  • And we will prepare an international marketing campaign to promote Scotland as a country where tourists can enjoy a smoke free environment, where business can expect improved health and productivity and where our sick man of Europe image is firmly in the past

On enforcement, we have seen the scare stories and the attempts to portray our chosen way forward as draconian and an infringement of personal liberty.

But the Scottish people are proud of the Scottish legal system.

Scots don' t need the threat of fines of over 3000 to obey the law.

Public enforcement

And our police officers should, of course, be catching serious criminals and keeping our communities safe, as their first priority. And our decision reflects that.

All the experience in San Francisco, New York, Dublin and elsewhere - cities and countries who have been brave enough to take this decision - is that members of the public enforce smoke-free areas themselves.

However, we must be clear on penalties and responsibilities:

  • Licensees or employers who fail to enforce the law in their premises will face fines up to a maximum of 2500

  • Licensees who persistently refuse to comply with Scottish law will face the ultimate sanction of licence withdrawal by the local licensing board

  • We will examine, in consultation with those charged with enforcing the legislation, a system for issuing fixed penalty notices for individuals who smoke in enclosed public areas and we will introduce a maximum fine of 1000 for persistent offenders

  • Environmental health and now local licensing standards officers will be responsible for enforcement - and COSLA and their professional bodies will be invited to join the implementation group to prepare local authorities for this responsibility.

Having made our decision, we must lay out a timetable too.

If this is the right decision for Scotland, and we believe it is, then there should be minimum delay.

We need to act quickly and we also need to give those affected time to prepare.

So, having considered the legislative options, we will:

  • Introduce the necessary legislative proposals in the Health Service (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill due to be presented to parliament before Christmas

  • and set a target date for full implementation in the spring of 2006

Presiding officer, devolution has provided us with the means to make a difference, suited to the specific needs of Scotland.

To my mind, there is no greater action we can take to improve the well-being of children and families in Scotland, for generations to come, than to secure this legislation and make Scotland's public places smoke free.

But, more than anything, the reason why smoking in public places should be illegal is because of the message it sends to our nation.

No longer will Scotland be the place in Europe most associated with poor health.

We in this parliament have a chance to make the most significant step to improve Scotland's public health for a generation

No longer is Scotland prepared to sit back and let cultural traits prevent national progress.

No longer does Scotland need to wait for someone else to take responsibility for difficult decisions.

The greatest rewards can be found from taking the toughest decisions.

The prize here is not a new set of laws, or the restriction of personal freedoms.

The prize is greater than that.

We in this parliament have a chance to make the most significant step to improve Scotland's public health for a generation.

It is a chance that this government is willing to take and an opportunity this parliament should not miss.

And I don't believe you will.





BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why Scottish ministers are ready to back the ban



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