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Scotland's smoking ban - battle not over

In ten days Scotland will "celebrate" the fifth anniversary of the public smoking ban north of the border.

Last week I spoke to journalists from two newspapers - the Mail on Sunday (Scotland) and Scotland on Sunday - and their reports duly appeared at the weekend.

SoS asked Five years on, just what has the smoking ban really achieved and are we seeing a backlash?:

"There is still a great deal of anger in some quarters," says Simon Clark, director of Forest and the Save Our Pubs and Clubs campaign.

"It is certainly true that the majority of smokers have adapted to the ban, but it's one thing to have a high compliance rate, and quite another to claim it's hugely popular. The reason for the high compliance rate is that the penalties for flouting the ban are quite severe, not so much if you're a smoker, but if you're a landlord who turns a blind eye to smoking. Not only can you be fined several thousands of pounds, but you could potentially lose your licence."

Clark accepts that, having got used to smoke-free pubs and bars, non-smokers are unlikely to support a change in the law, but he wants to see it reviewed. "What we want is a small amendment that would allow those pubs and clubs that have the capability of offering a separate well-ventilated smoking room," he says. "You would keep the smokers well away from the non-smokers, so they would never need to be exposed. The bar staff wouldn't have to go in for at least an hour afterwards."

Clark says most European countries allow such rooms, but Ash Scotland thinks the suggestion is laughable. "We say what we've always said. A no-smoking zone in a pub is like a no-urinating zone in a swimming pool. Smoke will always drift through," says [chief executive Sheila] Duffy.

In a report headlined 'Five years on ... 740 pubs have pulled their last pint thanks to the smoking ban', the MoS disclosed that:

More than one in ten of Scotland's pubs – 740 in total - have gone out of business since the smoking ban came into force five years ago this month.

And while the country's 14 health boards say it has helped 174,222 Scots stop smoking, the licensed trade warns the closures have cost about 1,200 jobs, many in rural areas where pubs are significant sources of employment.

Now industry officials and pro-smoking lbbyists plan to launch a fresh challenge to the ban at Holyrood, warning it is pushing Scots into dangerous, 'uncontrolled' home drinking environments.

They want MSPs to allow special licenses to pubs so that they can establish designated 'smoking rooms', which are cordoned off from non-smokers.

The drive is being spearheaded by the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and the pro-smoking lobby group Forest.

Watch this space.

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Reader Comments (24)

Simon, F2C Scotland has the story, in Glasgow "drinking dens" have been established where people can smoke and drink at the same time. This has led to an increase in murders as people are drinking unsupervised.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 9:28 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Found it.

Strathclyde Chief Constable: smoking ban may be responsible for more killings
Inevitably not everyone agrees, but the logic is persuasive. Cheap drink, combined with a policy denormalising smokers in a hard drinking culture, has led to more domestic violence. The smoking ban has inevitably brought more drinkers home.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 9:33 | Unregistered CommenterDave Atherton

Why do you say most smokers have adapted to the ban? It's not helping the cause of those of us who want it amended, and I'm not even sure it's true. I haven't been in a pub or cafe since the ban and there must be many others who at most very rarely stay in a pub for more than half an hour. ASH claimed they got the ban because they convinced people it was inevitable. Why not use their tactic and talk about an amendment as if it is inevitable. Otherwise, it might be more helpful to say nothing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 12:02 | Unregistered CommenterJon

If ASH thinks a smoking room in a pub is laughable, why not argue for separate smoking pubs? Non smokers would then never have to smell cigarette smoke.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 12:19 | Unregistered CommenterJon

Of course ASH are going to say this is "laughable" Jon. This is a well known response used by many illerate people when they do not have a laudable answer to a question or proposal.

How many times have you seen a comment on a blog etc, ending with "LOL"? It really winds me up. But the point is, that this is exactly what it is designed to do; they cannot answer you with facts or figures, so they try their best to infuriate you by laughing at you. And you know the horrible truth is, it works!

If they wasn't so powerful and so evil, it should be us who are laughing at them.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 13:11 | Unregistered CommenterPeter Thurgood

Jon: Unless the SHS crap is tackled head on, arguments for an amendment for rooms or pubs will be turned back on us atm. Whichever way we argue rooms or pubs, they will use, as they did at the time, the 'level playing field' argument. Whoever is allowed to have a room or Pub that can smoke will be unfair on those who cannot through reasons of cost or space. And then, who decides? even if it's delegated to local council level the same arguments will apply. One element of choice allowed anywhere in this and it all falls over. And they know it!

I believe that Simon (God bless him) is trying to dilute the above by saying that it now appears that a non smoking Pub would be profitable so what's the problem. I also believe that, bit by bit, we're getting nearer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 13:59 | Unregistered CommenterFrank


I have come up against that Sheila Duffy remark about 'peeing in your swimming pool' before.

The answer is to correct the analogy. It is the equivalent of peeing in your ocean actually.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 14:03 | Unregistered CommenterJohn Mallon

Anyone swimming in a Council pool full of children will be swimming in pee, which is quite harmless - as is a few whiffs of smoke.
I still maintain there is an argument for separate pubs. Any scheme which allows smaller pubs to choose and larger ones to provide a sealed room would work. This is the case in Spain and, effectively, the Netherlands.
Frank, the level playing field argument sounds ridiculous after we've ben told so many times how popular the ban is, and how it has brought non smokers into pubs. And there must surely now be enough non smoking drinkers to support non smoking pubs.
Simon, why not talk about the Netherlands - how the ban was amended because it was admitted that a bar owner is not an employee and doesn't need protecting? And also, mention that in both Italy and France, smoking rooms are still permitted if they satisfy certain conditions. Talk as if an amendment is inevitable, just as it was in the Netherlands.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 14:41 | Unregistered CommenterJon

'And while the country's 14 health boards say it has helped 174,222 Scots stop smoking'

This is another ASH fabricated number. I have checked and the correct figure is 174,220

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 14:54 | Unregistered CommenterGerard

'And while the country's 14 health boards say it has helped 174,222 Scots stop smoking' How the hell does anybody know? Ah, because they said so. They said "I've given up because of the ban"

Jon: I agree with you about the 'level playing field' argument BUT this is what antis will say as they did prior to a total ban.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 15:29 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

It is possible to have completely segregated smoking rooms without even a wisp of smoke
In other parts of a pub. Thousands if not millions go out less because of smoking ban, perhaps smokers have got used to it. Ruining peoples social lives and peoples businesses are real problemsthat need addressing here. I hope the SLTA get their way over these antismoking bigots.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 15:30 | Unregistered CommenterPaul

non-smokers are unlikely to support a change in the law

Are they?

Smoking, being a social activity means people will want to mix. Why do non-smokers join the smokers outside? It is this ban on free association inside that is galling.

A separate room or indeed a private club that caters for all and allows smoking is required.

It does seem that relationships have been broken and some people have now found themselves isolated. Why a tolerant society allows this is beyond me.

Of course unwinding this mess will take time and perhaps some people may think differently about many things as it unwinds.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 16:57 | Unregistered Commenterwest2

"It is certainly true that the majority of smokers have adapted to the ban..."
Is it? Where are those stats hiding themselves?

I know let’s ask Deborah Arnott eh?

Q – Do you think that the majority of smokers have adapted to the smoking ban?
A – “Well, Simon Clark says they have, so that must be true, he should know - we said all along it wouldn't be a problem".

Nice one!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 18:10 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

The problem we have is that whatever these lunes say is, apparently, being accepted by the All Party committee. Tackle these so and so's. Let's start by having balance on the committee and scrapping their dependence on ASH as their source of information, just because the DoH says so. This is not just a health matter any more. It's causing economic hardship and serious friction. The All Party Committee is the target and SHS the ground.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 18:24 | Unregistered CommenterFrank

Sadly, in my experience the longer the ban lasts the less likely it will be to be overturned. I was speaking to some non-smoking (but not anti by any means) friends the other day and they thought the idea of allowing smoking in pubs was laughable.

That said, when I said I was fighting for smoking and non-smoking rooms and smoking and non-smoking pubs, they all said, "Oh, yes of course" as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. We need to be very careful of how we phrase arguments - as much as I loved smokey pubs, quite a few wouldn't want to go back HOWEVER, most non-smokers don't mind a BIT of smoke and virtually all (in my experience - then again in 25 years of pub-going I've never once met an anti in the real world) non-smokers think that outside "smoking enclosures" are just dehumanising and vindictive. If a smoker is away from where they are sitting, why does it matter if where they are sat is 50% enclosed, 80% enclosed or a 100% enclosed separate room?

We need to remind people that amending the Ban isn't "going back to the bad old days" (as much as I loved ithem!). It's about catering to BOTH groups. Plus, of course it gets smokers off the pavements, away from entrances and keeps noise and litter in the pub. It SHOULD be an anti's wet dream! The fact that it isn't just shows that the whole thing is inspired by vindictiveness, hatred and bile.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 21:47 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

That said, I have heard increasing rumbles of discontent about nannying and Tobacco Control from mainstream quarters in recent weeks, and in some ways despite the recent legislation I can feel the tide turning. So who knows how it's going to go? We just need to keep fighting for freedom, property rights, objective science and fairness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 21:49 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

"We say what we've always said. A no-smoking zone in a pub is like a no-urinating zone in a swimming pool. Smoke will always drift through," says [chief executive Sheila] Duffy.

Clearly the likes of Sheila Duffy would to prefer to see smokers excluded from society, as many are currently. The majority of smokers have adapted to the ban, yes Simon millions
have had their social lives ruined and have got used to going out less.
Im sure the position with drinking dens, is common in many parts of the UK.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 21:52 | Unregistered CommenterTim

Easy retort to Duffy's old swimming pool cliche:

"No, it isn't. It's like having two separate pools. You'll only get pissed on if you go looking for it."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011 at 22:46 | Unregistered CommenterMr A

"I know let’s ask Deborah Arnott eh?

Q – Do you think that the majority of smokers have adapted to the smoking ban?
A – “Well, Simon Clark says they have, so that must be true, he should know - we said all along it wouldn't be a problem".

Nice one!

I agree with JJ. I can't believe you said that

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 17:07 | Unregistered CommenterJon

JJ and Jon, when I say that most smokers have adapted to the ban I am simply stating the bleeding obvious.

Look around you. The overwhelming majority of smokers haven't quit (nor are they marching on Whitehall or defying the law). They are still smoking - albeit outside in doorways, parks, gardens or at home etc - which indicates that they have adapted to the ban. Many don't like the ban and continue to argue for amendments - as I always point out, compliance doesn't equal popularity - but it would be ridiculous to argue that the majority haven't adapted when clearly they have. (The problem for pubs and clubs is that many smokers have 'adapted' by staying at home.)

Likewise, while there are non-smokers (like me) who don't mind people smoking around them in a confined space indoors, experience tells me that, having got used to it, a majority of non-smokers now say they prefer to work and socialise indoors in a smoke free environment and they are unlikely to support a radical change to the law. That is the reality and it is one of the reasons why we talk about separate smoking rooms although our preferred option would be a choice of smoking and non-smoking pubs and bars.

As part of my job I have witnessed several focus groups comprising 'ordinary' non-politicised smokers and the feedback we get is often quite different to many of the comments posted on blogs such as this. I take that into account when I make any public statement and I make no apology for doing so. If I was to adopt a more bellicose and blinkered view of the world journalists and broadcasters would soon give me a wide berth - with good reason.

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 18:20 | Unregistered CommenterSimon

The whole point of my comment and Jon's is fairly straightforward. When you make a statement like "It is certainly true that the majority of smokers have adapted to the ban..."
you are quite simply giving ammunition to the zealots like ASH, who will twist your words and then play mind games with them - can't you see that?

Why not say that the ban has been a disaster and has led to a full bloodied persecution of smokers who have now being ostracized from social society. I most certainly haven’t adapted to being denormalised because I smoke – has any smoker?

ASH knows that the general public will not make the distinction that you refer too. ASH will simply say;
“Well Forest seem to agree that the ban hasn’t had any adverse effects because everyone has adapted to the ban, it hasn’t hurt smokers and their social lives, and in fact many have stopped smoking, so Forest are right when they believe the legislation is working well because everyone including smokers have adapted to the ban”.

See how easy it is to twist everything around.

Who is asking you to take a more blinkered view of the world? Are you saying we’re blinkered and bellicose – I never thought that was your true perception? Aren’t we right to say that we’ve been persecuted then? So when we say this we’re just bellicose blinkered people who don’t know better? How about passionate? Yeah, that’s a better word don’t you think?

Incidentally, it didn’t seem to hurt Arthur Scargill during the miner’s strike (you remember that don’t you), this man was never off our screens. I remember him being on our screens every night, being, er – bellicose. He was the most effective speaker during the strike, in fact his voice was the only one I can remember hearing, who else was there? He was always going to lose – but he put up one hell of a fight against insurmountable odds.

I never carried any torch for Scargill – but nobody ever got the better of him. His was the only powerful voice that cut a swathe through the lily livered wimps, and I don’t remember him not being invited to talk on any and every media outlet by journalists because he was – bellicose!

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 19:37 | Unregistered CommenterJJ

I also think that the word 'adapt' is dangerously ambiguous, but I do see what Simon means by it. We cannot claim to have resisted the ban like Dutch, Spanish and Greek licensees have done. But the question is what is they have adapted to?

They have adapted (some more successfully than others) to a law that deliberately deprived them of any social recreational outlet, for the purpose of ensuring (ostensibly) that exposure to secondary smoke was minimised and (actually) for the purpose of marginalising and 'denormalising' smoking in the public mind. This has been achieved by the creation and public funding of lobby groups like ASH and ASH Scotland, in response to agendas such as those created by the World Health Organisation's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, with enormous backing from the likes of Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in the US and other pharmaceutical bodies here.

Forest's name in full is the Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco. This surely means fighting the denormalisation agenda and anyone who tries to push it. How you can do this without being a little bellicose beats me. The antis already have you marked as a tobacco propagandist, and whatever you say they will paint you as such.

Are you saying Simon that non-politicised smokers want to keep the ban, or that they think/know that non-smokers want to keep the ban? What feedback is coming to you?

I won't quarrel with your choice of the word 'adapt', but if smokers can adapt to a regime that aims to denormalise them, then non-smokers can adapt when it gets changed back. This campaign isn't about what non-smokers will put up with, having been subject to anti-smoking propaganda for the last decade or so (which I feel is a legitimate object of any campaign for the right to enjoy smoking).

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 21:10 | Unregistered CommenterBelinda

This proposal is doomed from the start and smacks of self interest. What evidence can they offer as to the drinking habits within the home which is private property, my home, my choice.

It would be more sensible to tell the truth regarding ETS and to bin the ban completely or at least follow the Dutch model, seek amendments to allow smoking and non-smoking venues allowing market forces to dictate the way forward. Smoking licenses will be viewed as yet another tax on the hospitality sector.

Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 23:02 | Unregistered CommenterBill Gibson

We've tried reason and suggested compromise and it gets us nowhere. We need some concerted action. I can think of several entirely legal ways of forcing an amendment. The first is to stop giving blood. Far from suggesting that smokers shouldn't get medical treatment, the NHS is very friendly when it wants something off us,

"If you smoke, it is recommended that you avoid smoking for two hours after giving blood because smoking could make you feel faint and dizzy."

The blood donor serviice requires 10000 donations a day. It aims to keep two days' supply in reserve. Just a few hundred fewer donations a day would really screw it up..

My second suggestion is for smokers to boycott organ donation. 49% of tranplanted lungs are from smokers (young males who die on the roads) yet doctors come on the radio and tell us we don't deserve transplants.

Just two suggestions off the top of my head. I'm sure other people can think of many more. I've had enough of not going out.

Friday, March 18, 2011 at 13:02 | Unregistered CommenterJon

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