SUBMISSION BY JENNY KEMP
I am writing in an individual capacity and am happy for this submission to be treated as a public document.
My comments on the Bill are as follows:
I strongly support the general principles of the Bill and the key provisions it sets out. I would prefer to see smoking prohibited in all public places, but while the Scottish Executive remains resistant to this, I would support any measures which will limit smoking in certain public places, and raise awareness of the dangers of both passive smoking and smoking.
I believe that smoking should be prohibited in the regulated areas specified in the Bill (and hopefully, eventually, in all public places) for a range of reasons.
1. To protect the health of staff who work in the places where smoking is still allowed. It seems anomalous that people's rights to a healthy and safe working environment do not currently extend to the right to work in a smoke-free environment, given how dangerous second-hand smoke is. This is detrimental to individual staff, and also to the hospitality industry, as establishments are currently able to recruit from only a limited pool of people (many potential job applicants, including women of child-bearing age and people with respiratory complaints, will be put-off by the prospect of working in a dangerous smoky atmosphere). The industry is also exposed to the risk of legal action from employees whose health has suffered due to the smoke in their working environment, a risk which could be lessened by the passing of this Bill.
2. To protect the health of customers of restaurants etc. The health risks of passive smoking are significant and well documented and yet it is still commonplace to have to tolerate smoke if you wish to patronise certain restaurants or other such establishments.
3. To reduce the risk of sex discrimination. At present there are many more women in service industry jobs such as waitressing and barwork than men so allowing smoking in e.g. restaurants when it is commonly prohibited in offices and more male-dominated workplaces is indirectly discriminatory. Pregnancy issues also have to be considered: women are likely to feel forced to resign from service industry jobs if they become pregnant and wish to avoid exposing their unborn children to tobacco smoke. Men do not face this dilemma. This differential impact also applies to women as customers. Any practice which has a more detrimental impact on one sex has to be justified or it should cease - and smoking in public places where food is consumed should cease.
4. To reduce the risk of disability discrimination. The arguments above apply equally in terms of customers and staff/prospective staff who have certain disabilities which could be exacerbated by smoke inhalation, e.g. asthma. Allowing smoking in public places effectively indirectly discriminates against people with these disabilities, as it limits their ability to work or enjoy leisure time in these environments.
5. For reasons of comfort. Tobacco smoke has a strong and unpleasant smell and taste as well as damaging health effects, and non-smoking patrons of restaurants and other such establishments often have to suffer these even in 'no-smoking' areas, because smoke drifts and cannot by its very nature be confined to one area of a room. In my experience, ventilation and the use of separate areas do not work.
6. To take account of the balance of smokers versus non-smokers in the population. A minority of people smoke and yet this minority is given the right to pursue an anti-social and unhealthy habit which dictates the attractiveness of supposedly public places for the majority.
7. To send out a message about the acceptability of smoking. Scotland's health record is one of the worst in the developed world but we could begin to change that by making smoking a minority, marginalised activity which is not widely tolerated. Prohibiting smoking in environments where food is prepared and consumed would be a good start.
I urge the Health Committee to support this Bill.