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Last Updated: Monday, 19 March 2007, 00:03 GMT
Scots 'back smoke ban exemptions'
The ban was introduced in Scotland on 26 March, 2006
Three quarters of people in Scotland believe there should be exemptions to the smoking ban, a poll has suggested.

The Populus survey, for the pro-smoking group Forest, revealed 74% of 1,004 people surveyed thought private clubs should be allowed smoking rooms.

It comes a week ahead of the ban's first anniversary, and found that the same percentage backed the idea of specialist smokers' clubs.

But Health Minister Andy Kerr said the ban had been "a resounding success".

Legislation implemented on 26 March last year outlawed smoking in all enclosed public places in Scotland.

Compliance levels have been very high
Andy Kerr
Health Minister

Wales will go smoke-free on 2 April, Northern Ireland on 30 April and England on 1 July.

However, Forest spokesman Neil Rafferty said: "The majority of the public has always supported a choice of smoking and non-smoking facilities.

"The ban has been in force for a year now and most people still feel that places like private clubs should be able to permit smoking in separate, well-ventilated rooms.

"The Scottish Executive should be looking at reversing some of its regulations and introducing more licensed exemptions."

Ranald Macdonald, the Scottish businessmen who set up the London restaurant Boisdale, also described the ban as "unnecessarily severe".

Privately run clubs

He said he would like to open "an establishment run by smokers for smokers".

"As a smoker myself I believe we should be able to smoke in privately-run clubs if the owner or members agree to it," he said.

"Allowing designated smoking rooms in private clubs is something few people could object to."

Independent MSP Brian Monteith claimed the ban had caused a downturn in the number of people going to bingo halls.

Brian Monteith MSP
Mr Monteith said bar takings in his constituency were "dangerously low"

He said some had closed and others were in danger of going out of business.

The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: "I can't see this trend reversing unless we allow them to introduce separate areas where people can smoke.

"The same is true of several private members' clubs in my regional constituency, where bar takings have fallen dangerously low."

However, Mr Kerr said: "The people of Scotland have fully embraced the smoking ban and it has been a resounding success since it was introduced.

"Workplaces, restaurants, bars and other enclosed public spaces are all now smoke-free, and compliance levels have been very high.

"The ban is the single most important piece of public health legislation in a generation and we are already beginning to reap the health benefits."

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