The IDS row dominates the Sunday papers, even in Scotland.
Nevertheless the Scottish Mail on Sunday has found space to report – under the headline 'Smoke ban backlash' – the result of a poll commissioned by Forest last week.
Conducted by Populus, the survey of 1,011 adults living in Scotland found that over half (54 per cent) think pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men’s clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room to accommodate smokers.
Only two fifths (40 per cent) were opposed to the idea.
Women (54 per cent) were equally as likely as men (55 per cent) to think pubs and clubs should be allowed to provide a smoking room.
Two fifths (41 per cent) of women thought smoking rooms should not be allowed in pubs and clubs, compared to 38 per cent of men.
The poll was commissioned for Forest ahead of the tenth anniversary of the smoking ban in Scotland (Saturday March 26).
It's worth pointing out that this is not a rogue poll. The result is similar to a June 2015 Populus poll, also commissioned by Forest, that asked the same question of over 2,000 people throughout the UK.
More than half (57 per cent) thought pubs and private members’ clubs, including working men's clubs, should be allowed to provide a well-ventilated designated smoking room to accommodate smokers; 43 per cent said they should not be allowed to provide smoking rooms.
In December 2014 a ComRes poll for the Institute of Economic Affairs found that half (51 per cent) of Britons believed owners of pubs and private members clubs should be allowed to have a private room for people to smoke in if they want to, with 31 per cent disagreeing.
The results are clear and consistent. Almost a decade after the introduction of smoking bans across the UK, a majority of adults say designated smoking rooms should be allowed in pubs and clubs.
The Mail on Sunday report isn't online so I have posted it below.
Smoke ban backlash
The majority of Scots believe smoking should be reintroduced to pubs and clubs – a decade after a ban made it illegal.
A new poll shows more than half of respondents thought venue owners should be allowed to offer a separate room for anyone who wants to light up on a night out.
Ahead of this week’s tenth anniversary of the ban – which outlawed smoking in enclosed public places – pro-smoking group Forest commissioned a public opinion survey.
Research consultancy Populus quizzed more than 1,000 Scottish adults – and 54 per cent thought pubs and private members’ clubs should be allowed to provide well-ventilated smoking rooms.
Perhaps surprisingly, almost half – 49 per cent – of non-smokers said there should be an option for such designated indoor smoking spaces.
The findings are in contrast to Scottish Government assurances that most people are in favour of the legislation that came into force on March 26, 2006.
Forest director Simon Clark said: ‘Politicians like to claim the smoking ban has been a huge popular success. This poll suggests they are out of touch with many ordinary people.
While most people understandably prefer to work and socialise in a smoke-free environment, a majority of the public seem willing to compromise, unlike our elected representatives. Designated smoking rooms offer a third way.’
Mr Clark said he would not expect pubs or clubs to be forced to provide a smoking room, but to have the option.
He added: ‘The fact so many people support designated smoking rooms, ten years after the smoking ban was introduced, shows this issue will not go away.’
Paul Waterson, chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: ‘Pubs have never fully recovered. We’ve lost about three pubs a week since the ban but because of the Scottish Government’s reduction of the drink-driving limit, last year we saw about seven closing a week.
'We could never go back to the way it was before, we’re not suggesting that, but ventilation systems were very good then and they’re even better now. Perhaps there is some room for relaxation.’
Action on Smoking and Health Scotland chief executive Sheila Duffy said annual surveys ‘consistently show’ smokers and non-smokers support the current set-up.
Public health minister Maureen Watt said the Scottish Government was ‘firmly committed’ to creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034 and that there were no plans to review the current legislation.
She added: ‘Since the smoking ban was introduced almost ten years ago, evidence shows it has contributed to a 39 per cent reduction in second-hand smoke exposure in adults, a 17 per cent reduction in hospital admissions for acute coronary syndrome and improvements in the respiratory health of bar workers.’
The paper also features a comment piece by Labour's Lord McConnell (formerly Jack McConnell) who was first minister when the ban was introduced:
A massive gamble – but I still think move was right
On the night of March 25, 2006, I was more nervous than at any other time during my six years as First Minister. The next day, our ban on smoking in public places would come into force and I went to bed wondering if people were going to stick to the new law on the Sunday, or if – as predicted by many – there would be trouble and chaos.
I believed we had done as much as we could to persuade people that this big change in our national culture was all about the future and therefore Scots should help us make it work. But we just didn’t know.
As the Sunday progressed, it became clear there were very few acts of defiance. The people had spoken. They had accepted that our new parliament had the authority to make a law like this and it was right for Scotland.
During our consultations in 2004, every single school that sent a submission supported a ban of some kind. That had convinced me that this was the right choice. But could we make it work?
The late Tom McCabe, who as deputy health minister had led the consultation, made my options clear:
‘You need to go with this. If we have a partial ban, you will have smoking pubs in the East End of Glasgow and non-smoking pubs in the West End. Do you want your legacy to be wider health inequalities, or do you want to really change Scotland? You have to be decisive about this. People will follow your lead if you seize this moment.’
He was right. Ten years on, the number of people smoking is down to about 20 per cent – and there has been a cultural change in our pubs and cafés. Obviously, there are still arguments about the impact on pubs and clubs.
But I always took the view that there were twice as many people not smoking as there were smoking and most of the people who smoked wanted to give up anyway.
The decline in pubs was already happening before the ban, so I don’t attribute pub closures to the smoking ban at all.
People said to me Scotland couldn’t change, but I never believed that. I’m not a huge fan of bans and over-legislating, but sometimes there is a cause and a moment – and, in March 2006, Scotland embraced this cause.
It is the single piece of legislation I am most proud of, but I am even more proud of the Scottish people. It was their success.
Pass the sickbag.