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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 March 2006, 16:14 GMT
Smoking ban problems 'expected'
Jack McConnell said enforcement should have a light touch at first
The first minister expects the early days of Scotland's smoking ban to be fraught with problems.

Jack McConnell has urged officers enforcing the ban to go softly at first - advising and warning - rather than slapping down fines.

He said he expected the ban would bed down, due to widespread public support.

Mr McConnell stressed that the ban was law and would be enforced if necessary. Smoking in enclosed public spaces will be banned from 0600 BST on Sunday.

The Scottish Executive is providing councils with more than 6m over three years to help enforce the ban, including recruiting additional environmental health officers.

Pubs and other businesses allowing smokers to flout the ban or not displaying warning notices in no-smoking premises face fixed penalty fines of 200, while individuals could be hit with 50 fines for lighting up indoors.

It's important that we bring public opinion with us, that we move the national consensus on
Jack McConnell
First Minister

A failure to pay could result in prosecution and a 2,500 fine.

Mr McConnell said he had "no doubt" some people would find it difficult, initially, to co-operate.

He said: "I hope they will find quickly that this change is a good change, that it is in the interests of Scotland and it is in their interests as well.

"But we will need to be tolerant of the fact that people are going to have different views in the early days.

"I hope that those who enforce it will be sensitive of that."

The first minister said that the experience of the Republic of Ireland and New York was that the ban would be "self-enforcing".

Mr McConnell added: "I think those who are enforcing should ensure, at least in the early days, that they don't provoke situations that are unnecessary.

"It's important that we bring public opinion with us, that we move the national consensus on.

"I think there's an increased understanding in Scotland that this is the right thing for our country."





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