Smoking in Public Places
The UNISON Scotland Submission
To the Scottish Executive's Consultation on "Smoking
in Public Places"
This paper constitutes UNISON Scotland's response
to the Scottish Executive's consultation paper on the ‘Smoking
in Public Places'.
UNISON is Scotland's largest trade union representing
around 150,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.
UNISON Scotland welcomes the opportunity to respond
to this consultation exercise.
Comments on consultation method
UNISON Scotland has a concern over the validity
of the methodology chosen by the Scottish Executive for this consultation.
Instead of looking for a more qualitative approach whereby detailed
responses on the merits or otherwise of smoking in public places
can be addressed, the Executive seem to have gone down a primarily
quantitative approach which seems more akin to a snapshot survey.
There is a concern that despite the Deputy Minister
stating in the foreword to the consultation paper that they want
to look behind the numbers there is a danger that the Executive
may consider their response according to the number of responses
received. Therefore it is open for any organisation to obtain
and distribute multiple copies of the response form to their members
in order to highlight or reinforce their particular view.
Each of the questions posed in the consultation
paper is reproduced below along with the UNISON Scotland response.
1. Having considered the health risks associated
with passive smoking, do you think that further action needs to
be taken to reduce people's exposure to second hand smoke?
Yes further action needs to be taken. This is
highlighted by a recent report from the National Cancer Institute
which has highlighted that second hand smoke/ Environmental Tobacco
Smoke (ETS) is more toxic than car exhausts. In the USA ETS has
been classed as a Class A carcinogen by the Environmental Protection
Agency in the USA - the same class as asbestos.
The scientific evidence on the ill effects of
ETS to health is increasing everyday; it's time for the Scottish
Executive to take a positive stance on this issue.
2. Would you support a law that would make
enclosed public places smoke-free? (Public places include workplaces
Yes, UNISON Scotland would support such legislation.
Environmental Tobacco Smoke can linger in an enclosed space for
a number of days before it is fully dissipated. Therefore the
only serious way to stop the damage caused by ETS is to ban it
completely from all enclosed places.
3. If a law was introduced, do you think there
should be any exemptions to it? (i.e. any enclosed public places
where smoking should be allowed)
There should be no exemptions from any legislation
on smoking in enclosed public places, although there will have
to be a clear definition on what is regarded as an enclosed public
However UNISON Scotland believes that it is important
for the Scottish Executive to clearly define what is meant by
a ‘public place'. For instance would this be restricted to premises
requiring a public license certificate of any kind? Such a clear
definition may also assist with the issue of enforcement and penalty.
4. If we decide not to introduce a law, what
more could be done to encourage individual businesses to take
voluntary action to become smoke-free or to provide more smoke-free
If the Scottish Executive do not introduce legislation
then they are failing to act on the best medical evidence available
that passive smoking harms people's health. There was positive
public reactions to a Private Members Bill on the same issue (Stewart
Maxwell's Prohibition on Smoking in Regulated Areas). One option
could be to amend this bill to include all enclosed public places.
In the introduction to this consultation the
Executive states that 7 out of 10 pubs still allow smoking throughout
their premises. This indicates that voluntary action has not worked.
There is also a danger that some issues such as segregating smokers
from others or no smoking within a certain distance from the bar
etc could appear to work. In both cases staff and non-smokers
may still be affected by ETS as the gas emitted from cigarettes
will tend to dissipate around a building until it reaches equilibrium
(i.e. the physical law of diffusion). In other words the smoke
will spread out until it covers the enclosed area evenly.
5. What else could we do to reduce people's
exposure to second-hand smoke?
The only sure-fire way to reduce people's exposure
to second hand smoke is to reduce the number of people smoking,
especially in enclosed public places. Therefore health programmes
designed to help people give up smoking should be a priority.
Any resources spent in this area will be more than amply rewarded
in the long term with a reduction in the smoking related illnesses
which cost the NHS in Scotland around £200 million per annum
including around 13,000 deaths and 33,500 hospital admissions.
6. Please let us know about any other views
you have about smoking in public places.
UNISON Scotland support a ban on smoking in enclosed
public spaces not just in terms of the general health benefits
to non-smokers but also with regard to the implications on worker
health and safety. With this in mind UNISON Scotland believes
that there should be further guidelines for staff who have to
work in service users homes (home carers and others) regarding
their health and safety at work from ETS.
For further information please contact:
Matt Smith, Scottish Secretary
14, West Campbell Street,
Glasgow G2 6RX
Tel 0845 355 0845 Fax 0141 342 2835
Submissions index |