Today was surely the finest hour of our fledgling Scottish Executive. By the Spring of 2006, there will be a complete ban on smoking in public places in Scotland. The ability to go out and come home smelling of the drinks that I have drunk, rather than somebody else's foul smoke, is one that I wholeheartedly relish.
In seriousness, the benefits to the nation's health — 13,000 people die every year in Scotland, due to smoking-related illness — make this decision vital. If the pub trade loses customers who choose to stay at home and smoke, it will only gain customers who choose to spend time in a clean environment. If tax revenue is lost because of dwindling cigarette sales, it will be offset by the reduced healthcare costs, and because non-smokers will live longer and continue to pay taxes. And, even if taxes were to rise, I would be happy to pay for the increase in my quality of life that is going to result.
At least, it would result, for who knows if I will still be in Scotland in the Spring of 2006? I only hope that the rest of the civilised world follows the example set by our small, proud country today.
I think we can expect to see this story fly round the Scottish blogosphere in the next few days. Donna reacted happily earlier today. Some weeks ago, Colleen called for the ban, so perhaps we have her to thank for the progressive attitudes at Holyrood :-). I don't imagine Mr. Miller will be quite so happy....
PS. A commentator from pro-smoking lobby group, Forest, condemned proponents of the ban as being a "vocal minority". Further confirmation that that soundbite is the last resort of the desperate.