Scottish gay bars ready as smoking ban ignites

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Smoking has now been stubbed out across bars and pubs in Scotland.

The ban, which came into force yesterday to a mixed reception, applies to public places including restaurants, bars and clubs.

A spokesman from gay establishment, the Claremont Bar in Edinburgh told, “We have been ready since the end of January, it is no big shock to us.”

“There were only two ashtrays left in the building on Saturday as most smokers went outside.”

He added that umbrellas and tables have been placed in the outdoor sections of the bar, and there has been no significant affect on his business

However, a BBC survey revealed that a fifth of smokers in Scotland would flout the ban and some groups fear a loss of jobs and human rights.

Scotland’s First Minister Jack McConnell responded to criticism, he told the BBC, “We have to be realistic about this. There are going to be people who will be inconvenienced by the ban.

“I think that while we will see some people resisting over the early days of the ban, the vast majority of Scots don’t smoke.”

He said the move was Scotland’s “largest single step to improve its health for generations” and a day of pride for the nation.

Meanwhile Scotland’s health minister, Andy Kerr, a former smoker who instigated the ban, visited a pub to assess the impact of the legislation. As he sat in the Calderwood Inn in East Kilbride, he remarked with a smile, “no smell.”

England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be watching the smoke settle in Scotland, as they plan to implement similar bans over the next year.

A total ban on smoking in enclosed public spaces in England is due in summer 2007. Northern Ireland is introducing a ban in April next year, while no date has been set yet in Wales.

Smokers who break the ban face a £50 fine and owners will receive £200 fines for allowing others to smoke or failing to display no smoking warnings.

The law will be enforced by environmental health officers and applies to most indoor places, except homes.