Friday, 27 February 2009

Smoking bill should be stubbed out

If there's one thing where the SNP and Labour are united, it's in sharing a nannying approach to subjects such as smoking and drinking.

The latest example of this came yesterday when the Scottish Government published its anti-smoking bill, which contains proposals to ban cigarette vending machines and prevent the display of tobacco-related products in shops. I've blogged about this subject before when the Labour government came up with similar proposals to implement at Westminster and I stand by the comments I made then.

Banning the display of tobacco products and vending machines will not make much difference to the incidence of smoking. Indeed, I note in The Herald report a claim that the New Zealand government decided against introducing such a ban on the grounds that there was no real evidence that such a ban was effective in reducing smoking.

There is also a cost implication for retailers, with the Scottish Grocers Federation saying that it believes that will be between £5,000 and £10,000 on average.

And worst of all, it's a completely nannying measure. The ban on smoking in public buildings could be justified on the grounds of preventing harm to others through passive smoking. But vending machines don't cause any harm to others and nor does the display of tobacco products. That's why I'm disappointed that Scottish Lib Dem health spokesman Ross Finnie seems to be backing the bill in principle, even if he does criticise the Gnats for wanting to introduce a blanket ban.

Although I'm not a smoker, I'd be quite happy to see the new smoking bill stubbed out.

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