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Last Updated: Monday, 27 March 2006, 03:43 GMT 04:43 UK
Smooth start for ban on smoking
Woman outside bar in Edinburgh
Smokers are forced outside bars
As Scotland starts the working week it appears the introduction of the smoking ban has passed off without a hitch.

In pubs, restaurants and all public enclosed places across the country, smokers have been forced outside.

Scotland's eight police forces said the first evening passed off peacefully and Health Minister Andy Kerr said he expected most people to obey the ban.

Its impact will be watched closely in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, where bans have also been planned.

Smoking enforcement officers are continuing their patrols in a number of local authority areas.

From what we are being led to believe, it's been quite well followed
Fife Police spokesman

But they were expected to adopt a "softly-softly" approach in the first few days.

Scots appear divided on the issue. Non-smoker Maria Tillman, 37, from Abbeyhill in Edinburgh, said she was getting reacquainted with pubs again.

Speaking from a hostelry in the city centre, she said: "It's great to be able to put your nice clothes on, knowing you won't go home stinking of smoke.

"I used to get headaches and a sort of 'hungover' feeling just from the smoke, so it's a joy to know those days are over."

But 50-a-day smoker Helen Webster, 48, from Falkirk, condemned the ban.

She said: "It has made us feel like criminals. You pay enough for fags as it is in taxes, so I think it is completely unfair."

SCOTLAND'S SMOKING BAN
Smoking in an enclosed public place - 50 fine
Operators of premises face fines of 200 for allowing others to smoke or failing to display warnings
Enforced by environmental health officers
No smoking signs will carry a named person to whom a complaint can be made
Complaints can also be logged by calling 0845 130 7250
Ban covers most indoor places and workplaces, not homes
Smoking allowed in shelters which comply with regulations

A BBC poll suggested a fifth of smokers intended to flout the ban.

A spokeswoman for Edinburgh City Council said 22 of its environmental health officers had patrolled 147 venues, where they found very few problems.

She said: "They visited pubs, restaurants, hotels and clubs, and all of the venues were complying with the smoking ban.

"The only slight issue was in terms of signage in a handful of places, but the council has had no complaints to its designated email address."

A spokesman for Fife Police said: "From what we are being led to believe, it's been quite well followed. A lot of smokers are stepping outside for their cigarettes."

Five 'offences'

A spokesman for the national compliance line, which fields allegations of offences, said he had taken 23 calls by 2200 BST.

Only five of those were eventually logged as alleged breaches of the ban.

Individuals who flout the legislation face a fixed penalty of 50.

Health Minister Andy Kerr
We're a law-abiding nation and if it can happen in New York, I think it can happen in East Kilbride and Scotland as a whole
Andy Kerr
Health Minister

Mr Kerr, speaking at a pub in East Kilbride, said the new law would be "sensibly" enforced in the early days but said he had faith in public compliance.

"But we're a law-abiding nation. If it can happen in New York, I think it can happen in East Kilbride and Scotland as a whole.

"Look at the seatbelt legislation, that became the norm and I think this will be the same in due course."

Health campaigners have hailed the law as the biggest step forward in a generation.

But smokers' lobby group Forest has accused ministers of misleading the public over the health impact and economic costs of the ban.

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association, which had called for a partial ban, fears 140 pubs could close and 2,500 jobs may be lost.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
See the impact the ban has had so far



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