From smoke filled bars to the birth of vaping - ten years of change

It's been ten years since the smoking ban came into force in Scotland, with pub-goers exiled to the cold streets if they fancy lighting up.

Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 6:38 am
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 12:52 pm
Electronic cigarette.

It seems almost inconceivable now that puffing away was legal in pubs and clubs, with a murky cloud clinging to everyone who so much as set foot in the bar. The reek of stale tobacco stuck firmly to your clothes and hair, enshrouding everyone so much that many considered it to be just part of the natural fabric of a ‘good night out’.

But then came the ban, and with the aim of reducing smoking and improving public health, the percentage of Scots smoking has dropped from 31 per cent in 2006 to 21 per cent in 2015. So has the ban really had a positive effect?

NHS Scotland certainly believes it has.

The authority says that in the decade since the ban, it has seen a 17 per cent drop in hospital admissions due to smoking-related illnesses.

It also sites a 39 per cent reduction in second-hand smoke exposure in adults and 11-year old children, with a further study showing that the ban may have helped reduce the number of teenagers taking up smoking by a fifth.

Shona Robison, Health Secretary, said: “Levels of smoking continue to fall year on year since the smoking ban was introduced.

“Lung cancer death rates have dropped by 13 per cent over the past decade and early detection is vitally important to continuing this trend.

“Smoking continues to be the biggest cause of preventable death in Scotland. Quitting tobacco is the single best thing a smoker can do to improve their health.

NHS Scotland offers a range options through its smoking cessation services to help people quit, and we will continue to use resources effectively to achieve a smoke-free generation by 2034.”

However, some have highlighted a loss in pub trade as a result of the ban.

Paul Waterson, a spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Authority, says that a significant number of pubs have gone out of business.

“The smoking ban was bad for business,” he said.

“The losers were the traditional pubs that couldn’t change their offering to counter the ban.

“There’s no doubt that smoking is bad for the individual.

‘‘There are obvious health benefits in stopping, but the ban did create hardship.

“We’ve lost three pubs a week since 2006.

‘‘Thousands of people have been put out of work. I would say the ban hasn’t quite been the success everyone thought.

“I think there was an argument for licensed premises which had properly-ventilated rooms where smoking was allowed. No one is saying that we need to go back, but with the advancements in ventilation technology we’ve seen in the last ten years, there is a case for looking at it again.”

“Looking back, I think we could have seen the same benefits without the ban if premises could allow smoking if they have the right facilities.”

So the last ten years have brought difficulties for some, and not everyone may have welcomed the ban initially. But the health improvements are undeniable, and the ban has also sparked a culture change where lighting up in public is now considered taboo.

However, One thing’s for sure; if you’re sick of having to traipse outside and huddle in doorways to escape the cold while you spark up, keep in mind, that with the advancements in quitting aides, stopping has never been easier.

So ask yourself: how badly do you really need that cigarette?