Smoking Ban in Public Places

Case Study – smoking ban in public places

For several years there has been a general discussion about banning smoking in public places. In January 2005 the Health Minister, Andy Kerr, MSP introduced an Executive bill to do this – Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill.

This was the result of a large number of individuals, pressure groups, MSPs and health officials joining the debate. The following case study looks at some of these groups and how they lobbied to get this bill introduced.

2002 Firrhill High School Petition

In May 2002 a group of pupils from Firrhill High School in Edinburgh petitioned Parliament to take the necessary action to ban smoking in public places. They supported their petition with evidence about the effects of passive smoking and had 105 signatures.

The Public Petitions Committee asked them to attend a committee meeting and give further evidence to support their arguments. The committee then asked the Executive to respond to the petition.

2004 Prohibition of Smoking in Regulated areas (Scotland) Bill

In 2004 Stewart Maxwell, MSP introduced a Members Bill that proposed banning smoking in public areas that serve food.

The Health Committee examined the Bill at Stage 1 by calling in witnesses to give evidence. The witnesses called included:

  • Firrhill High School
  • Health officials, e.g. BMA, Royal College of Nursing, Health boards
  • FOREST – pro smoking pressure group
  • Tobacco Manufacturers Association
  • New York City Department of Health official – had already introduced a ban

The Health Committee reported that they supported a ban and that Stewart Maxwell’s Bill didn’t go far enough. (Stewart Maxwell later withdrew the Bill when the Executive’s Bill was successful)

2004 Scottish Executive Consultation

In the meantime the Scottish Executive had started a wide spreading consultation process to find out the extent of support for a ban. There were 52,441 personal responses and 1,033 group responses. Overall, 80% supported some type of ban, with 56% thinking there should be no exemptions to a ban.

One of the groups to respond was the Tobacco Control Cross Party Group. This group looks at the effect of tobacco on health and tobacco advertising.

2004 Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill

The Health Minister introduced the Smoking, Health & Social Care Bill on 16 December 2004. It included a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places.

The Health Committee was named lead committee and had the task of taking this Bill through the legislative process. The committee took evidence from groups and individuals about how the proposals could work in practice.

This was an Executive Bill and supported by all the other parties except the Conservatives. The Health Committee reported to Parliament and then there was a Stage 1 debate and vote. After this the Health Committee looked more closely at the Bill and made some amendments (Stage 2), then there was a Stage 3 debate and vote on the final version of the Bill.

The final vote was:

For 97
Against 17
Abstentions 1

The Bill was therefore passed by Parliament on 30th June 2005 and received Royal Assent on 5th August 2005 to become the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005.

Smoking in enclosed public places was banned from 26th March 2006

Did you know?


Cross-Party Groups are formed by Members (MSPs) from different parties and include members of the public and outside organisations. They meet to discuss a shared interest in a particular cause or subject. At present there are over 45 different groups.

Anyone can petition the Parliament asking for a new law or a change to an existing law provided it is a devolved matter. One signature is enough.

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