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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 16:22 GMT
No change to smoking ban plans
Smoking ban
Smokers will be forced outside pubs to light up
The Scottish Executive will press ahead with a total ban on smoking in public places, Deputy Health Minister Rhona Brankin told a conference in Edinburgh.

The pledge came as an executive survey of 1,026 people showed a desire for pubs and clubs to be exempt.

Among the 557 (54%) respondents who supported a ban, more than half (57%) said this should not apply to pubs.

However, the executive also published medical papers, which it says show a clear need for new laws.

In a paper by Professor David J Hole, a public health expert from Glasgow University, he predicts that as many as 2,000 deaths in Scotland each year are related to environmental tobacco smoke exposure - passive smoking - among non-smokers.

'Clear majority'

First Minister Jack McConnell announced plans for a comprehensive ban, including pubs and clubs, on 10 November and the parliamentary bill to bring in the new laws is due to be published within days.

The survey of people living in Scotland, conducted by Market Research UK in late August/early September, found that 37% of those interviewed did not support any smoking ban.

Of the 469 respondents who either did not support a ban or were unsure, 48% said people had a right to smoke in public places.

However, Ms Brankin told a conference in Edinburgh on Monday that the ban would "transform" the health and well-being of children and families in Scotland for generations to come.

The potential health gain from a ban is enormous
Rhona Brankin
Deputy health minister

She also said the executive's earlier public consultation - which attracted 54,000 responses - had delivered "a clear majority" in favour of legislation.

Ms Brankin told delegates: "We want to be as open and transparent as possible on this issue.

"The evidence supports the decision that's been taken and we know that the measure has significant public support.

"Research has shown that the potential health gain from a ban is enormous.

"For example, smoking rates in New York fell by 2% within a year of a ban being introduced and in Ireland, 7,000 people are thought to have quit in the first six months of their ban.

'Not the answer'

"There is also no evidence to support claims of imminent economic meltdown.

"Indeed, most of the evidence points the other way, that this will be bring benefits."

However, she acknowledged the concerns of the licensed trade over the potential impact of a ban and pledged to work with them as the legislation progressed.

But the Scottish Conservative health spokesman, David Davidson, said the executive could not hide the fact that fewer than 13% of Scots support an outright ban on smoking in public places.

He added: "A majority of Scots want some action on smoking, but only a small minority back Jack's ban.

"We all know the dangers of smoking, but there must be reasonable considerations as to how we tackle these risks.

"All parties in the parliament want to see a reduction in tobacco consumption, but rushing through this legislation is not the answer."


BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Why Scottish ministers backed the ban



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