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Businesses Called To Clear The Air For A Healthier Scotland

13th July 2005

The Scottish Parliament has voted to introduce smoke-free enclosed public places. This will have implications for employers and employees in all workplaces including all offices as well as bars, restaurants, hospitals and schools across Scotland. A web-site has been created by The Scottish Executive with further information and case studies of businesses that have already adopted smoke-free policies http://www.clearingtheairscotland.com

The new law is contained in the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act which was passed at Holyrood on 30th June (97 votes to 17 with 1 abstention), and will become law on 26th March 2006.

The legislation will improve the long-term health of the public in Scotland by reducing exposure to passive smoking. Passive smoking currently claims the lives of up to 1,000 non-smokers in Scotland every year and is also linked with lung cancer, heart disease, respiratory conditions and strokes.

In light of the new law, employers are being urged to consider how the legislation might affect their business or organisation. Employers and managers will have responsibility to ensure premises and staff meet all the requirements of the new law, making reasonable efforts to ensure that employees, customers and visitors are aware of the legislation. All business premises will have to display No Smoking signs that are clearly visible. Vehicles including buses, taxis, company cars, ferries and trains will also be covered by the ban.

The law will be enforced by local authority Environmental Health Officers, who will be able to give out fixed penalty notices to anyone who is committing, or has committed, an offence.

Failure to take necessary measures could see employers and managers liable to a fixed penalty of 200 if they do not take reasonable action to prevent someone smoking on the premises, or if they do not provide adequate No Smoking signs. Individual offenders who contravene the law could also be liable for fixed penalty fines of 50.

The Scottish Executive is keen to reassure businesses about going smoke-free. Letters are being sent out to businesses across Scotland and more detailed guidance will be sent out later in the year, including information about what those affected will need to do.

Scottish Health Minister, Andy Kerr said:

"This is the most important piece of public health legislation in a generation and it is vital that all businesses, large and small, ensure their premises and staff conform to the legislation. The Scottish Executive will work closely with the business community to ensure the legislation is implemented as smoothly as possible".

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