Scotland votes to ban smoking in public places

Scottish MPs have voted to outlaw smoking in public places from March next year.

From then, it will be illegal to smoke in pubs, clubs, restaurants and all places open to the public.

The ban was given the go-ahead by 97 votes to 17 with one abstention.

The new law will apply in nearly every workplace that is open to the public – such as theatres, shopping malls and railway stations – from next March. It has been backed by health professionals and anti-smoking campaigners but opposed by the licensed trade who claim it is disproportionate, will cost thousands of jobs and put many pubs out of business.

Exemptions to the ban will be granted only on ‘humanitarian’ grounds, and employers failing to enforce it will be fined up to £2,500. Individual smokers breaking the ban could be fined up to £1,000.

Andy Kerr, the health minister in Scotland, said: “By introducing this legislation we will save thousands of lives and help keep families together for longer. Smoking has wreaked a catastrophic toll on Scotland’s people.”

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the British Medical Association’s head of science and ethics, called on health secretary Patrician Hewitt to “listen and learn” from Scotland’s example.

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