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Last Updated: Monday, 26 March 2007, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Ban 'helping smokers to give up'
Smokers shadows
Smokers now find themselves out on the streets in Scotland
The ban on smoking in public places has been hailed as a huge success on its first anniversary.

Scotland banned smoking in enclosed public spaces on 26 March last year and bans are due in Wales and Northern Ireland in April and England in July.

The most comprehensive study in the world on the impact of a smoking ban is being carried out north of the border and is due to report later in the year.

Interim results showed 46,466 efforts to quit the habit during the year.

Andy Kerr
We are already beginning to reap the health benefits
Andy Kerr
Health Minister

First Minister Jack McConnell said the ban had been a major success and would create tangible long-term benefits.

He said: "It has been a remarkable change and not just in licensed premises. I think it might take a generation to see the difference this makes.

"Even after one year, Scotland is a healthier place and people, both in work and at leisure, are able to avoid the atmosphere which in the past caused them health problems."

The anniversary of the smoking ban comes as a new report revealed how many people used NHS smoking cessation services in 2006.

ISD Scotland, the body which compiles the nation's health statistics, found that there were 46,466 quit attempts made during the year.

Officials discovered that January to April were the busiest months for services. An estimated 4.3% of smokers in Scotland tried to stop with an NHS smoking cessation service.

The view from the bar one year into Scotland's smoking ban

A follow-up one month later revealed that 34% had quit, 34% were still smoking and results for 32% were unknown. After a three month follow-up, the quit rate was 18%.

Health Minister Andy Kerr said: "Initial findings suggest that the ban has encouraged people to give up smoking, with the number of people contacting cessation support services increasing in the run-up to the ban's introduction.

"Although it is too early to know exactly what the health and economic impact of the ban has been, we are already beginning to reap the health benefits.

"The ban is working extremely well. More people have come forward to smoking cessation services. We are continuing to be creative in how we support smokers. We are not out to get them, we are out to help them."

However, smoking rights groups and licensed trade representatives have attacked the measures.

Smoking ban poster
The executive say the ban has brought about a national pride

The Scottish Licensed Trade Association claims the ban has seen sales drop and led to staff losing jobs.

The SLTA said the industry is suffering "collateral damage" in a war between the Scottish Executive and the tobacco industry.

But for the average restaurant and pub-goer the ban seems to be proving popular.

Carline Neilson, a student from Paisley, told the BBC Scotland news website: "While I do feel sorry for smokers who have to stand outside in the rain to have a cigarette, I'm also annoyed with myself for giving them sympathy when they never had any for me when the shoe was on the other foot."

About 13,500 premises were inspected in the last part of 2006 and of those just under 96% were found to be compliant with the regulations.

Fixed penalty notices were issued to 14 premises and 175 to individuals across the country.

Smoking is linked to about 106,000 deaths a year in the UK, with more than 30 people a day dying in Scotland.

Scotland's chief medical officer Harry Burns has even gone as far as predicting lung cancer could be almost wiped out in the next 20 years.

The British Medical Association has stressed the ongoing work that needs to be done.

BMA Scotland chairman Peter Terry said: "Scots have embraced the smoke free legislation and many have chosen to quit, however, much more must be done to reduce the number of smokers in Scotland, particularly among the young and pregnant women."

An executive consultation on the issue of raising the smoking age to 18 has now closed with responses set to be available on Wednesday.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the impact of the ban on smokers



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