Scottish pubs say smoking ban was rushed through

30 March 2006
Scottish pubs say smoking ban was rushed through

Pub operators and associations in Scotland have attacked the introduction of last weekend's smoking ban as rushed and confused.

Colin Wilkinson, secretary of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said many publicans had had their attempts to provide for smokers frustrated. "Hospitality businesses are doing all they can to cater for smokers, but various council officials seem to have different interpretations of the new law."

Wilkinson said the guidelines on outside areas were clear until late January. Then councils started offering differing interpretations at the last minute.

Sue Allen, regional operations director at Punch Taverns, which has more than 500 pubs in Scotland, said the switch over had gone well but that the final guidance at the end of last year had come too late.

"We had studied the Irish legislation in detail, taken a few educated guesses and were prepared," Allen said. "But planning departments across Scotland have been in meltdown throughout."

Despite the planning frenzy, Patrick Browne, chief executive of the Scottish Beer & Pub Association, said: "The big issue will be enforcement, as there is a severe shortage of environmental health officers."

John McNamara, chief executive of the British Institute of Innkeeping, was blunt about officials' handling of the project.

"At all costs we have to learn lessons from this if we are to go smoke-free in the rest of the UK," he said. "The introduction of the legislation has been rushed."

Despite this, the Scottish public appears to have understood the new law, which bans smoking in enclosed public places. Initial feedback has suggested a high level of compliance.

A spokeswoman for the Scottish Executive said things had appeared to have gone well, with only five premises referred via the compliance hotline to EHOs for flouting the new law.

How the ban looks from behind the bar

"Our takings were 30% down on the first day of the ban. I doubt that trade will go back to the same levels as before the ban. We could have done with more notice."
Alan Gibson, manager of Kildares pub, Nicolson Street, Edinburgh

"I run a working men's pub, which was visited by many chain-smokers. Business has taken a slight knock. I will continue to lobby against the ban vehemently. It's an erosion of civil liberties." Brian Miller, landlord of the 1/4 Grill Pub, Clerk Street, Edinburgh "We haven't seen any drinkers flout the rules. However, I don't think trade will be the same because 85% of our customers are smokers. It will mostly affect the older customers." Jenny Hu, assistant manager of the Wine Glass, Newington Road, Edinburgh "There has been no difference to business. The restaurant trade is very different from pubs as customers are less likely to chain-smoke." Andrew McGregor, manager of Blonde Restaurant, St Leonards Street, Edinburgh"The ban seems to have been well accepted and we don't anticipate a significant downturn in trade. One drinker tried to disguise that he was smoking - but customers told him to put it out." Karen Mitchell, bar manager of the Southsider pub, West Richmond Street, Edinburgh *By Andy Moore* *By Chris Druce* Get your copy of *Caterer and Hotelkeeper* every week - ](
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