SUBMISSION BY DR ROBIN SMITH
Prohibition of Smoking in Regulated Areas (Scotland) Bill - Call for evidence by Health Committee
As a health professional who spends much time dealing with the consequences of smoking I am writing to offer my support for the above bill.
Smoking is clearly very harmful to those who partake in the habit and there is some evidence that passive smoking in individuals in the vicinity of smokers produces harmful effects. Although I believe the effects of passive smoking are important, a far more powerful argument for restricting smoking in public places is, I believe, the effect it will have on the image of smoking and thus the effects on young people taking up smoking anew.
Although the overall number of people smoking is slowly declining there remains an alarmingly high prevalence of smoking amongst young people, particularly young women. I believe that this bill would help in giving cigarettes a more unsociable image and thus discourage young people from starting smoking.
Similar legislation which has been introduced in New York, California and Dublin have generally been perceived as being a success and initial concerns that bars and restaurants might suffer financially as a consequence have not been realised. Paradoxically trade in non-smoking bars and restaurants have in fact increased in these areas, the argument that human rights are being infringed by barring smoking is not valid in my opinion and are outweighed by infringements to non-smokers human rights by individuals smoking in their vicinity. Furthermore, other laws such as enforcement of wearing seatbelts have been found to be socially acceptable and have had dramatic health benefits.
I would therefore strongly support Mr Maxwell's bill and I hope that it will contribute positively to the change in cultural attitude that needs to happen in this country towards smoking.
DR ROBIN SMITH