Scotland Leads Britain in Banning Smoking

Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

November 10, 2004 --Today Scotland banned smoking in public places and became the first country in the UK to introduce smoke-free legislation.

Congratulating the First Minister, Dr Peter Terry, chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland, said:

"This is a great day for Scotland and a great day for devolution. While government at Westminster procrastinates, our own Scottish Executive has consulted with the public, listened to the debate and has decided that the health of the population is worth more than the biased economic arguments and junk science promoted by those who argued against legislation.

Science and Sense Have Prevailed

"Science and sense have prevailed and we now wait for the legislation that will reduce the risk to health caused by exposure to tobacco smoke and will make significant inroads in improving the health of the nation."

"We recognise that the hospitality industry has expressed concerns over the potential economic impact of restrictions on smoking in their premises, and we must work with them to make this legislation effective. We must not loose sight of the fact that this legislation is about protecting the health of workers and the public. Human life is worth more than any economic argument."

Helping Smokers Stop

However, Dr Terry also recognized that support must be provided to help smokers cope with the changes in the law.

"While every effort must be made to ensure that businesses comply with legislation, smoking is an addiction and we recognise that it can be difficult to give up. The Scottish Executive must invest heavily in smoking cessation programmes for smokers who wish to quit."

Smoking Kills 1 in 4 Scots

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's Head of Science and Ethics, made the following comment:

"This really is fantastic news for Scotland. One in four people in Scotland die from a smoking-related illness and this needs to change. The new legislation will save lives and protect health.

"The BMA congratulates Scottish politicians for listening to the evidence on second-hand smoke, putting the health of their citizens first and having the courage to introduce a ban."

Comments

The foregoing information is based on two press releases we received today, one from the Scottish Press Office and the other from the British Medical Association.

By coincidence we also received an invitation as members of the media to attend a news conference today in Washington at which HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson will "announce a series of new initiatives to help Americans quit smoking."

Will Mr. Thompson's "new initiatives" be as effective in clearing the air in America as the courageous action taken today in Scotland? Or will it be more well-worded hot air from Washington? We will see.

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Last Editorial Review: 11/10/2004