Smoking ban starts in Scotland

27 March 2006
Smoking ban starts in Scotland

Representatives of Scotland's hospitality industry have criticised officials' handling of the introduction of the country's smoking ban.

The new law means that since 6am yesterday it has been illegal to smoke in all enclosed public places including restaurants, bars, cafés, hotels and pubs.

Colin Wilkinson, secretary of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said many publicans felt frustrated by the confusion surrounding the ban.

"Hospitality businesses are doing all they can to cater for smokers, but various council officials have differing interpretations of the law.

As late as January we believed there wasn't an issue with covered outside-areas, which councils proved wrong. There needs to be more flexibility for licensees, who ultimately just want to comply."

John McNamara chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, said: "At all costs we have to learn lessons from this if we are to go smoke-free in the rest of the UK. The introduction of the legislation has been far too rushed.

In England and Wales we need the regulations quickly and we need at least 12 months from when the guidance is published to implementation to prepare."

Scottish Executive First Minister Jack McConnell said: "The smoking ban is absolutely the right way forward. It is right for Scotland, for our nation's health our nation's economy and our tourist economy."

Initial reports suggest compliance with the new smoke-free law has been high amongst the public, with police reporting little trouble.

By Chris Druce

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