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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 05:17 GMT 06:17 UK
Smoking ban 'a reason for pride'
The ban on smoking in enclosed public places came into effect on the morning of Sunday 26 March, 2006.

As part of a series of articles from interested parties supporting and opposed to the ban, Health Minister Andy Kerr looks back at its impact one year on.

The minister says there is no doubt the ban has made Scotland a better place.

On Sunday 25 March, 2007 Scotland was a very different place than this time last year.

Cigarette packets
Mr Kerr says the ban has made Scotland a better place

It is exactly a year since Scotland took the bold step of banning smoking in public places.

Our pubs, clubs, restaurants and bars are now smoke-free - and are cleaner, healthier and more pleasant places to be.

Of course, people said it wouldn't work.

They predicted civil disobedience, mass revolt, hundreds of pubs closing their doors.

But we all realised just days after the legislation came into force that the doom and gloom merchants were wrong and the country had embraced the ban.

Scots are now amazed that we put up with stinking, smoky bars and restaurants for so long.

They visit England or other countries which still allow smoking in public places and can't believe that we tolerated it for so long.

Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs around

Scots are proud that their country has been the first in the UK to take this step.

Don't just take my word for it - a Cancer Research UK study showed that 84% of young Scots think the ban is something to be proud of.

And initial findings also suggest that the ban is encouraging people to give up, with an increase in people contacting quit services in the run-up to the ban's introduction.

As a former smoker, I know only too well how difficult it is to give up.

Tobacco is one of the most addictive drugs around and seven out of 10 smokers say they want to kick the habit.

Smokefree bus
England, Wales and Northern Ireland will follow Scotland this year

That's why we are investing record amounts in cessation projects, so that people get the support and help they need to quit for good.

While it is too early to say exactly what the impact of the ban has been, the early indications are positive.

There's no evidence of a downturn for the licensed trade - in fact, some pub companies have even reported a rise in sales since the ban, as they attract new customers.

And university studies are telling us that the health of bar workers has improved and air pollution in pubs has dropped by 86% - making air quality on a par with outdoor air.

These studies are hard evidence that the smoking ban is doing what we said it would - improving health and making Scotland a better place for us all to live in.


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