Scots show the way for new smoking laws

Since the new smoking ban took effect in Northern Ireland, bar managers have been complaining that they were finding it difficult to prepare by the deadline.

However, it could be a costly mistake for landlords to flout the law as bar staff who had developed illnesses from passive smoke have every right to approach their solicitors to try to press for legal action.

But, despite enforcement worries, Scotland, which has had the ban in place since March 2006 has shown that the ban has not caused any problems in the pubs and clubs.

Scottish newspapers had forecast that going smoke-free would lead to loss of custom, meaning up to 5,000 jobs cuts in bars and an increase in violence as drinkers might react badly in the event of being approached to stub out their cigarettes.

Yet despite such scare-mongering, only one pub employer has been penalised for breaching the ban; and that was not for a health-related concern, but just because an outdoor shelter for smokers had been put up incorrectly, according to the BBC.

Maybe it is too early to tell how successful enforcement will be in Northern Ireland, but the Scottish success story is certainly encouraging.

One Edinburgh enforcement officer told the BBC: "The fact is that pub regulars don't want to see their local closed down. If anyone starts smoking, the landlord or landlady stands up and says: 'Right, the bar's closed.' The regulars then make sure it doesn't stay closed for long.

"In one pub in Leith, I heard about a bloke who was flung out the door by all the other drinkers when he lit up."

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