Yesterday marked the second anniversary of the smoking ban in Scotland, which radically changed the atmosphere inside pubs. Many non-smokers have welcomed the opportunity to drink or eat out without being enveloped in a fug of second-hand cigarette smoke. The ban has given rise to many outdoor drinking spots around the city as well.
Some publicans, however, say that their worst fears have come true and two years on, business has taken a hit as regulars stay at home where they can have a drink without having to brave the elements every time they want a puff.
The ban is not going to be reversed though. Countries around the world have been introducing increasingly stringent smoking bans in public places. The ban also appears to have a broad base of support.
Edinburgh City Council reports that there has been 98.8% compliance with the ban (the
national average is 96.8%). After 14,000 inspections of Edinburgh premises by Environmental Health Officers a total of 12 Fixed Penalty Notices have been issued for breaches of the ban and 260 written warnings given. Only one report was sent to the Procurator Fiscal and a fine was issued.
The council reports that its expertise has been sought for helping other countries preparing to introduce a smoking ban in public places. In recent months, the Council was invited to submit an online presentation to a US-based training website aimed at assisting developing countries to introduce similar legislation.
Councillor Robert Aldridge, Environment Leader, said: "Research shows that the ban is having a direct impact on our nation's health thanks to extremely high compliance levels here and overwhelming public support for the legislation among non-smokers and smokers alike."
Recent statistics from the Scottish Government showed that there had been a 17% reduction in heart attack admissions to nine Scottish hospitals compared to an annual reduction of 3% in Scottish admissions in the decade before the introduction of the ban and an 86% reduction of second hand smoke in bars within the first two months of the legislation coming into effect.