Scotland, first in Britain, bans smoking in public places
BEIJING, March 27 (Xinhuanet) -- A ban on smoking in Scotland's pubs and restaurants came into force on Sunday, making it the first part of Britain to take the historic step of introducing a smoking ban in public places.
From 6:00am it became an offence to light up in nearly every enclosed public place north of the border - with smokers facing a ¡ê50 (about 87 U.S.dollars)on-the-spot fine.
The new law came with a warning from landlords and smokers' groups that its potential benefits had been overstated and would lead to pub closures and job losses.
The smoking ban is part of a broader drive to change a lifestyle of heavy drinking and smoking, poor diet and lack of exercise which has earned Scotland the nickname "sick man of Europe."
Experts hope the ban on lighting up in pubs, restaurants, cafes and offices will lead to a big drop in the number of deaths caused by passive smoking, estimated at about 1,000 a year in Scotland, with a population of five million.
Jack McConnell, Scotland's First Minister, conceded that there would be pockets of resistance but said that the ban was necessary to reduce deaths from cancer, heart disease and strokes.
He said: ¡°I think we¡¯ve got to be realistic about this. There are going to be people who will be inconvenienced by the ban. But I also believe Scotland is a law-abiding country.¡±
"In the years ahead, people will look back on today as the day that Scotland took the largest single step to improve its health for generations," said McConnell.
"Scotland will be proud that it has gone smoke-free ahead of any other part of the UK."
Surveys indicate that more than 60 percent of Scots support the ban. "I'm loving it," said student Kathy Eager, who works as a waitress at a pub in Edinburgh's cobbled Grassmarket area. "I won't have to go home and scrub the smoke out of my skin."
Individual smokers in pubs voiced their complaints that their days of a puff with their pint were at an end, but the majority decided to make the best of it and comply.
Scotland was inspired by Ireland, which imposed the world's first nation-wide smoking ban in 2004, and a string of other countries which followed its lead.
England, Wales and Northern Ireland are expected to impose similar bans next year. Enditem
Editor: Lu Hui