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Scotland: majority of adults support smoking rooms in pubs and clubs

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.

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Reader Comments (12)

The funding from tax of political parties with their smoking ban, tobacco control, plain packaging, cigarette cover up and bullying nanny state make them unsupportable and unwanted. They have only themselves to blame.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 13:42 | Unregistered Commentergray

Actually the smoking rate is c.22% (at least by 2015)

And to say that the ban had any impact of the ongoing rate of decline is wishful thinking. The rate actually increased slightly during 2006-2007.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 16:22 | Unregistered Commenterdavid

The desire to amend the smoking bans has not abated but neither has the desire of a small minority of lifestyle controllers to impose prohibition on others. Fortunately the desire to amend or repeal smoking bans is constant. Political pressure that exposes the tobacco control lies about second hand smoke and the desire for reasonable accommodation for all is imperative.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 16:25 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

The paper also features a comment piece by Labour's Lord McConnell (formerly Jack McConnell) who was first minister when the ban was introduced

So how are Scottish Labour doing 10 years after they forced "this big change in our national culture" on the people of Scotland?

Just one seat left .

Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 16:30 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

What on earth does this mean?
"During our consultations in 2004, every single school that sent a submission supported a ban of some kind."

Can it really be true that they relied on the opinions of school children to justify their vile intentions?

I don't know about Scotland but my local experience suggested to me that pub closures prior to the ban were, often as not, about the opening of a large city centre pub putting a few small local ones out of business. In other words a net loss of pubs but not necessarily any change in customer numbers.

Since the ban, most of the pubs, both large and small, in my area have closed. Many having been the thriving centres of the communities for a couple of hundred years.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 17:39 | Unregistered CommenterTony

One problem with the views of children, is that they are used to being coerced. It is entirely right and proper for parents to coerce their children until they become old enough to make their own decisions. Of course all children are very familiar with the conflicts that occur over this. But they probably haven't really grown up enough to get their heads around the notion that adults are capable of making their own decisions, good or bad.

They probably haven't read J. S. Mill either, nor do they realise that in a democracy, politicians are elected to represent the needs and views of their constituents rather than to become their new parents.

Unfortunately the current political class haven't grown up either it seems.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 18:03 | Unregistered CommenterTony

Can it really be true that they relied on the opinions of school children to justify their vile intentions?

In England they got the ban on the strength of just 831 over sixteens using a phone poll.

New Poll Shows Public Back Health Select Committee Amendment on Smokefree Law
31st January 2006

"An all-Party group of ten members of the Select Committee, led by the Chair of the Committee Kevin Barron MP, has tabled an amendment to the Health Bill that would ensure that all workplaces and enclosed public places, including all pubs and membership clubs, would be smokefree"

Asked whether they support the Committee’s proposal 70% of those polled said yes, with only 18% saying they were opposed”

[1] The survey was conducted by BMRB International using the BMRB Access Omnibus (telephone) survey between 20-22 January 2006. It involved 831 adults aged 16+ in England.

"ASH Director Deborah Arnott commented:

“The message to MPs could not be clearer. The public wants smokefree legislation. They want it in England, just as they do in Scotland, Wales and in Northern Ireland. We are delighted that the Health Select Committee has led the way on this important issue and we are increasingly optimistic that comprehensive smokefree legislation will get a big majority in the free vote.”

Convincing, eh?

Deborah Arnott later explained -

“It is essential that campaigners create the impression of inevitable success. Campaigning of this kind is literally a confidence trick: the appearance of confidence both creates confidence and demoralises the opposition.

The week before the free vote we made sure the government got the message that we “knew” we were going to win and it would be better for them to be on the winning side.

But it was only five minutes before the vote that the political adviser to the health secretary phoned us to let us know Patricia Hewitt was supporting our position, and we only found out after the vote that the prime minister and Gordon Brown had followed her through the lobby.”

Perhaps she didn't let on to that it was only 831 people who were asked.

Sunday, March 20, 2016 at 20:49 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

We all know the lies and the history of how the bans came into place. What abhors me is how the current career politicains (not true politicians) get away with their propaganda to promote social isolation, loneliness and failure of business. Sadly, the laws have also witnessed many deaths.

Not one death yet has ever been caused by 2HS.

PHE, ASH, gov't lobbying gov't costs lives. Forget the tax intake and the good for the economy. People are dying as a direct result of this legislation.

Hey-ho though. Those people don't matter because they mean nothing to career politicains and the intolerant society that they are creating.

Monday, March 21, 2016 at 0:18 | Unregistered CommenterHelen D

Unfortunately the UK is a health dictatorship where the views of the majority count for nothing. Mps would prefer to see people without social lives rather than let smokers back into pubs.

Monday, March 21, 2016 at 5:18 | Unregistered Commentermark

At last Camra seems to have woken up to the danger.

Hundreds of Scots pubs take a hit after new figures reveal closure of over 1000 bars since smoking ban
21 Mar 2016

"He told The Scottish Daily Express: “Over the last 10 years, there have been quite a lot of outlets lost. It is a crisis the whole of the UK is experiencing and there are a lot factors coming into play.

“The anti-drinking lobby is now more active and there are more health guidelines from the Government, which are really just plucked out of the air to be honest.

“They are just against people going out and enjoying themselves, really.

There are certain aspects of wellbeing in going to the pub, especially for older people on their own. It’s a good place to go to engage with people.

“It might be the only people they see all day, so there’s a social aspect – the promotion of wellbeing – and that contributes to mental health.”

Nice try, but I think that improving people's mental health is the last thing the denormalisers care about, undermining people's self confidence and sense of wellbeing is what they do.

Monday, March 21, 2016 at 12:07 | Unregistered CommenterRose2

Yes Rose, I'd love to see the stats on the rise in MH patients since the introduction of smoking bans.

Another unintended consequence. The politicians responsible for passing this legislation should hang their heads in shame.

A law passed to promote isolation, death and MH issues with subsequent governments agreeing with it.

You couldn't make it up.

Propaganda at its best. No deaths from the threat yet the lies (and lucre) win.


Monday, March 21, 2016 at 23:23 | Unregistered CommenterHelen D

I came out of CAMRA after many years membership when it refused to support smokers and stood by when the peb industry was subsequently decimated. Non smokers are basically anti social.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 at 16:32 | Unregistered CommenterTimothy Goodacre

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