Laws to ban smoking in public places in Scotland

Who’s campaigning for this? BMA Scotland, which says grave health risks are associated with environmental tobacco smoke – passive smoking to the rest of us.

What’s changed now?

MSP Stewart Maxwell is putting forward a member’s bill in the next couple of weeks to regulate smoking in public places where food is served.

What has the BMA said publicly?

According to Dr Charles Saunders, member of the BMA’s Scottish Council and consultant in public health: ‘Smoking is the biggest single cause of preventable death in Scotland. Voluntary measures have failed and it is time for politicians to legislate to protect the public health.’

So is a fight on the cards for patient group campaigners?

It certainly is. The Scottish Executive has a voluntary charter in place on smoke-free areas, but deputy health minister Tom McCabe admits only 11 per cent of food and hospitality businesses have signed up.

What is the BMA doing about it?

This month, it sent a questionnaire to all members of the Executive to find out if MSPs believe Parliament should have a role in tackling smoking.

Sample question?

‘Do you accept the scientific evidence and the conclusions reached by the BMA, the chief medical officer, the World Health Organisation and the Royal Medical Colleges, that second-hand smoke causes illnesses?’

Impossible to disagree with that.

Well, it’s up to individual members, but the Executive put out its own report, called the Tobacco Control Action Plan, last week.

That must have pleased the BMA.

Far from it. The medical association said its target of reducing smoking among adults from an average of 35 per cent to 33 per cent between 1995 and 2005, and to 31 per cent by 2010, is not good enough.

So other health groups are up in arms?

Interestingly, no. The Executive’s strategy was based on a report by ASH Scotland and NHS Scotland, both of which support its findings. A total ban looks to be a long way off.

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