SMOKING IN PUBLIC PLACES, STATEMENT TO PARLIAMENT
BY THE FIRST MINISTER, 10
17. We know that the case for reducing smoking and exposure to second hand smoke is indisputable:
· 13,000 families a year in Scotland lose a loved one through smoking related deaths, and around a thousand of these are associated with passive smoking;
· 35,000 Scots are treated every year for smoking related diseases; and
· 17000 children in the UK under the age of five are admitted to hospital each year because of the effects of passive smoking.
18. But the consultation has provided new evidence on the impact of smoking bans and a greater range of information on public opinion:
19. Here is the evidence:
· The smoking ban in Ireland and in New York has helped smokers give up quicker and encouraged current smokers to smoke less;
· Cigarette sales have dropped by 13% in New York and by 16% in Ireland;
· Our research estimates that there will be a net economic benefit for the Scottish economy as a result of any ban, not a disadvantage;
· Tax revenues from bars and restaurants in New York have increased by almost 9% since their ban was introduced;
· And despite the dire warnings, the first official figures from Ireland show volume sales down just 1.3%, and they were falling before the ban became law.
The majority of Scots don’t smoke and, of those who do, the majority want to give up.
There is widespread support across Scotland for a ban on smoking in public places but there is also support for exemptions.
But the international evidence shows that a comprehensive, clear-cut law to create smoke-free areas is more enforceable and effective.
And critically, medical opinion highlights the impact that active and passive smoking have on our national health and medical bodies, cancer charities and others want us to take a clear and decisive step forward.
20. So having consulted more widely than ever before, the Scottish Cabinet met this morning to consider the action we will take on smoking in public places. We had in front of us reports on the consultation and on the impact of smoking legislation which have been placed in SPICE.
21. We noted the strong support for a comprehensive ban, and we noted the reservations of many on the detail.
22. But we also noted the unequivocal evidence that smoke-free public areas will save lives and improve Scotland’s national health. We noted the evidence that productivity will increase and the expectation that we will be a more confident and attractive country if we take action on smoking in enclosed public spaces.
23. We have considered the arguments and the evidence, and we are clear that Scotland must not be held back by our poor public health.
24. The single biggest contribution that our devolved government, and elected MSPs, can make to improving public health in Scotland would be to reduce the toll of preventable, premature deaths from smoking.
25. So I am proud to announce to Parliament today that we will, with your support, introduce a comprehensive ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces.
26. It will be a comprehensive band and a comprehensive ban will be a clear signal that Scotland has changed. It will reduce smoking, save lives and help transform our national health. It will be easier to enforce and simpler to understand than other options that would fall short of that.
27. Private clubs will not be exempt, the only exemptions will be in private and specific circumstances.
Why a ban is necessary
28. There will be opposition to this decision, but this Parliament must do what is right in the national interest. And we must persuade those with reservations to embrace the opportunities it will create.
29. For individuals the opportunity to cut down or to stop. And the opportunity for our children and grandchildren to grow up with less pressure to smoke, and less likelihood of dying early.
30. For the hospitality industries, improved productivity, a whole new positive image and more customers, not fewer.
31. For Scotland, the opportunity to transform our national health.
32. We will also take steps to implement this decision together with those who are affected, not seek simply to impose it on those who are addicted, or worried about their business. We will:
· Establish a National Smoke Free Areas implementation group, chaired by the Health Minister. And we will invite the Licensed Trade and others to join that group and assist us in this task.
· Double our health service support for those who want to stop smoking and need help to do so.
· And we will prepare an international marketing campaign to promote Scotland as a country where tourists can enjoy a smoke free environment, where business can expect improved health and productivity and where our sick man of Europe image is firmly in the past.
33. On enforcement, we have seen the scare stories and the attempts to portray our chosen way forward as draconian and an infringement of personal liberty.
34. But the Scottish people are proud of the Scottish legal system. Scots don’ t need the threat of fines of over £3000 to obey the law. And our police officers should, of course, be catching serious criminals and keeping our communities safe, as their first priority. And our decision reflects that.
35. All the experience in San Francisco, New York, Dublin and elsewhere – cities and countries who have been brave enough to take this decision - is that members of the public enforce smoke-free areas themselves.
36. However, we must be clear on penalties and responsibilities:
· Licensees or employers who fail to enforce the law in their premises will face fines up to a maximum of £2500.
· Licensees who persistently refuse to comply with Scottish law will face the ultimate sanction of licence withdrawal by the local licensing board.
· We will examine, in consultation with those charged with enforcing the legislation, a system for issuing fixed penalty notices for individuals who smoke in enclosed public areas and we will introduce a maximum fine of £1000 for persistent offenders.
· Environmental Health and now Local Licensing Standards Officers will be responsible for enforcement - and COSLA and their professional bodies will be invited to join the implementation group to prepare local authorities for this responsibility.
37. Having made our decision, we must lay out a timetable too. If this is the right decision for Scotland, and we believe it is, then there should be minimum delay. We need to act quickly and we also need to give those affected time to prepare.
38. So, having considered the legislative options, we will:
· Introduce the necessary legislative proposals in the Health Service (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill due to be presented to Parliament before Christmas; and
· Set a target date for full implementation in the spring of 2006.
39. Presiding Officer, devolution has provided us with the means to make a difference, suited to the specific needs of Scotland. To my mind, there is no greater action we can take to improve the well-being of children and families in Scotland, for generations to come, than to secure this legislation and make Scotland’s public places smoke free.
40. But, more than anything, the reason why smoking in public places should be illegal is because of the message it sends to our nation.
41. No longer will Scotland be the place in Europe most associated with poor health.
42. No longer is Scotland prepared to sit back and let cultural traits prevent national progress.
43. No longer does Scotland need to wait for someone else to take responsibility for difficult decisions.
44. The greatest rewards can be found …. from taking the toughest decisions.
45. The prize here is not a new set of laws, or the restriction of personal freedoms.
46. The prize is greater than that.
47. We in this Parliament have a chance to make the most significant step to improve Scotland’s public health for a generation. It is a chance that this government is willing to take and an opportunity this Parliament should not miss. And I don’t believe you will.