I am not sure whether the rest of the members would encourage me to do that.
The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill will transform Scotland. It will help to save lives and spare families heartache. The measures proposed will improve our productivity, increase our confidence and send a signal across the country and the world that Scotland has changed.
Since devolution, this Government and Parliament have improved Scotland. Police numbers are higher than ever before, crime clear-up rates are better than they have been for generations, waits for hospital treatment—and now by out-patients as well—are reducing dramatically, children are being lifted from poverty at a faster rate than ever before, our pensioners have been provided with safety, security and dignity in their old age, the number of deaths from cancer, heart disease and strokes is falling and pupils, parents and teachers are benefiting from some of the best schools, colleges and universities in the world. Devolution has delivered for Scotland in many ways. However, we are still one of the most unhealthy countries in Europe according to far too many of the basic health indicators.
Today, however, we have both the means and the opportunity to change that. Within our grasp is the power to enable us to make the most dramatic improvement to public health in Scotland for generations and generations to come will applaud us for seizing it.
The bill's parliamentary passage has been assisted by a great many people and, before I proceed to comment briefly on the key provisions, I want to thank a number of them. I thank those many organisations and individuals who took time to respond to the various consultations, those who gave evidence to the committees, the members of the Finance Committee, the Subordinate Legislation Committee and, in particular, the Health Committee, which considered the bill diligently, and the clerking teams of those committees, which ensured that events have
I advise the Parliament that Her Majesty, having been informed of the purport of the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill, has consented to place her prerogative and interests, so far as they are affected by the bill, at the disposal of the Parliament for the purposes of the bill.
The bill comprises a wide range of health provisions. Each of those is an important measure in its own right, but there is also a high level of interaction among them. The provisions for general dental services and pharmaceutical care services will allow health boards to provide assistance towards the provision of premises, among other things. The powers under the joint ventures provisions will provide a valuable new tool to help to deliver those services. The new pharmaceutical care services contract will allow pharmacists to take a greater role in the monitoring of patients on long-term medication. The pharmaceutical care services contract will enable community pharmacists to play a key role in the provision of smoking cessation services to support people who wish to give up smoking.
It is important that the public should have confidence in the health care professionals who deliver their care. The provisions on listing and discipline will strengthen and safeguard patient welfare. Securing the charitable status of the Scottish Hospital Endowments Research Trust will allow the trust to continue to support basic medical research. Where that research produces innovations that can be commercialised, there will now be a route to attract capital and commercial expertise through the formation of joint venture companies.
However, the keynote provisions in the bill are the provisions that will deliver a smoke-free Scotland. They will protect the people of Scotland from second-hand smoke, improve public health and denormalise smoking in our society. As I have said many times, the bill is the most important piece of public health legislation in a generation. As many members reflected today, it shows how Scotland can lead the way in the United Kingdom and is a tribute to the success of devolution. We have been congratulated on the fact that our proposals go further than the measures that have been proposed in England so that we can address
The bill will have an immediate impact by protecting people from second-hand smoke, but that will be far outweighed by the benefit that future generations will enjoy as they turn away from smoking as a socially acceptable activity. The decision to legislate was not easy and hard choices had to be made, but the greatest rewards for our country come from our taking the toughest decisions. We must ensure that our children and their children will be able to live longer, healthier lives free from the scourge of smoking.
Today is a proud day for a great many people in Scotland. I am proud to be a part of this great effort on this historic day in the Scottish Parliament. The bill is the gateway to a better, healthier way of life in Scotland. Today, we lead the way.
That the Parliament agrees that the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill be passed.
It is difficult to address every aspect of the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill, because the bill is so wide ranging. As I have said before, the Executive should reflect on that, because the wide-ranging and complicated nature of the bill has at times given rise to difficulties.
I certainly agree with the minister that the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill is probably the most important piece of public health legislation that could be passed in Scotland to address the health concerns that plague our nation. The ban on smoking in enclosed public places will have an immediate health benefit for people who work in pubs, restaurants and other enclosed public places and for people who visit those establishments. Just as important, it will also have long-term benefits, because it will denormalise cigarette smoking. I have said all along that, for me, that is probably the most important element of the bill.
The ban will have a huge impact on future generations. We know that far too many children perceive smoking as a normal activity because everyone around them smokes. It is important for society to put across a different message and tell those children that smoking is not a normal activity and that they should not take it up. The bill provides that important counterbalance in those children's lives.
The bill also creates an environment that will encourage many people to give up smoking. We know that a huge percentage of smokers want to
There has been much discussion about the economic impact of the bill and evidence has been put forward by those on both sides of the debate. What is true is that the bill provides the opportunity for Scotland to promote itself as a smoke-free destination for many who wish to come here. We must harness that to promote Scotland abroad. For example, my local hotel introduced a smoking ban in advance of the bill being implemented and its takings have increased, so there is evidence that, when people are ahead of the game and promote their establishment, particularly to families and so on, that can have an economic benefit. That is not to say that some will not have difficulties—we must be honest about that. However, opportunities are available for those who are able and willing to take them.
Addressing Scotland's poor health record must be the Parliament's overriding priority and concern. It is telling that the vast majority of members agree with that. I am afraid that only the Tories are left as an isolated rump on the issue, although, even among them, some are not entirely comfortable with their party's position. The Tories should reflect on their position.
The member tries to portray the Conservatives as a rump and an isolated minority. Does she accept that, in her party group, in the Labour group and even among ministers, some people have doubts about a total ban? The argument that we articulate represents the majority view of Scottish people, which is that, although a ban should be introduced, it should not be a total ban.
Frankly, the Tories do not represent a majority view on anything.
I will deal with other important issues in the bill. We have long supported the introduction of free eye and dental checks but, if the checks are to be effective, services must be provided for people to take them up and for follow-up work to be undertaken. We are not convinced that that will be the case, particularly in dentistry, because people in many parts of Scotland do not have access to a dentist. More work has to be done. People will in principle have free oral health examinations, but we will need people on the ground to deliver that
We have just debated a hepatitis C issue and a vote has been taken, so I will not reopen the argument. However, the fact that we have not delivered justice as we should have for families of those who have died from hepatitis C has taken a bit of the gloss off the bill for me and some of my colleagues, as John Swinney said. That would have been the icing on the cake of what is otherwise a good bill. I will say no more about that.
On behalf of my party, I have great pleasure in supporting the bill, but it is work in progress. We will pass the bill today and it will come into force next year, but we must do far more to address Scotland's chronic health problems. We can do more on smoking. We must ensure that smoking cessation opportunities are available to far more people. When people want to give up smoking, the services must be available to help them. We require to take many other public health measures to ensure that Scotland no longer has the tag of the sick man of Europe. However, the Parliament can be assured of our support for this important bill.
The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill is a fairly simple-sounding title for a complex and diverse bill that will affect many people's lives. We are generally content with parts 3 to 5, which deal with pharmaceutical care services, discipline and miscellaneous provisions, such as those on joint ventures and amendments to the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001.
However, we share the concerns that have been expressed about future service provision under the new pharmacy contract for patients who require stoma appliances. We hope that the Executive's reassurance that the new services will be at least as good as, if not better than, the present service will be justified in practice. Patients and stoma nurses are certainly not convinced that that will be the case.
We are very disappointed that the bill has not been amended to extend eligibility for ex gratia payments from the Skipton Fund to families of the victims of blood-product induced hepatitis C who died before 29 August 2003. That measure would have removed an obvious inequity, and the lack of any such amendment is a slap in the faces of the many people who have campaigned so tirelessly on the issue.
We cannot support the part 2 provisions on free dental checks and eye examinations. The most vulnerable people are already eligible for free checks; the problem is that many of them are the
As for free dental checks, there seems to be little point in passing such legislation at a time when the NHS does not have enough dentists to carry out the checks or to provide the necessary treatment thereafter. Given dentists' lukewarm response to the Executive's recently proposed changes to the dental service in Scotland, it does not seem that the problem is any closer to being resolved.
On part 1, we are disappointed that the Executive has not taken a more reasoned approach to smoking in enclosed public places. In recent years, there have been great strides towards smoke-free provision. For example, buses, trains, airlines, many public buildings, workplaces and restaurants are now smoke free and pubs are beginning to follow suit. I have no doubt that that trend would, without legislation, have increased anyway in response to public demand.
During the bill's passage, there has been much discussion about the inability of ventilation systems to remove carcinogens from the air in establishments that allow smoking. However, ventilation can in many workplaces that have such substances in the atmosphere bring carcinogens down to a level that is acceptable. Surely if air quality can be shown to be acceptable, there is no reason why there should not be more exemptions from the smoking ban.
Is the member unaware of the evidence that was given to the Health Committee that shows that what she has just said is patently untrue? Does she accept that ventilation only exacerbates the problem because people assume that the carcinogens have been removed?
There is conflicting evidence on the efficacy of ventilation. Only this week, I read that ventilation can reduce the amount of carcinogens not necessarily to zero, but to a level that would be acceptable in a workplace that has carcinogenic materials in its atmosphere. We breathe in carcinogens when we sit in our cars on congested roads or walk along Princes Street. What I am saying is that we could bring such carcinogens
We are seriously concerned that, as a result of the legislation, smoking will be displaced to the home. That would increase children's exposure to smoke-filled atmospheres and might lead to an increase in home consumption of alcohol, which is a growing public health problem.
In much of the debate on the bill, the rhetoric has pointed logically to a total prohibition of tobacco. However, such a step is not practicable, which leaves us with a situation in which smoking is, although harmful to health and undesirable, nonetheless a legitimate pastime. As a result, we feel that there must be some choice for smokers as well as for non-smokers. We do not disagree that smoking is a bad thing; indeed, I and my colleagues without exception want less of it. We would certainly support a sustained and vigorous campaign against taking up smoking and we would support measures to provide practical help, support and encouragement to people who wish to kick the habit, with the ultimate goal of achieving a smoke-free environment for everyone.
However, for the reasons that I have stated, we cannot give our full support to parts 1 and 2 of the bill, and we must therefore oppose it in its entirety.
By contrast, I rise to support the bill with enthusiasm and to acknowledge it as a major achievement for the Scottish Parliament. I commend the committee, the Executive, members of staff and all the people outwith Parliament who contributed during the consultation process and who gave evidence to the committee. I am also pleased to welcome the bill as a major delivery of Scottish Liberal Democrat policies.
I said that I was enthusiastic.
Attention has inevitably and quite rightly focused on the smoking aspects of the bill. The banning of smoking in enclosed public places is a crucial step in helping to shed Scotland's image as the sick man of Europe. The Scottish Liberal Democrats were the first party in Scotland to support a comprehensive ban on smoking in enclosed public places, and we are supporting the ban not because it is popular but because we believe that it is the right thing to do. I note that, at Westminster, the United Kingdom Government now accepts that it will eventually have to go for a comprehensive ban, rather than the messy compromise with which it is currently wrestling and
I would like to talk about another key Liberal Democrat policy that the bill will deliver: free eye and dental checks. From 1 April 2006, oral health assessments and dental examinations are to be available free of charge. The abolition of those charges clearly underpins our commitment to health promotion and early intervention. We acknowledge the difficulties that are currently being experienced in providing national health service dental services, but those difficulties will be resolved. There exists the commitment and political will to do whatever is necessary to get that sorted.
I would like to mention three pieces of survey evidence from the RNIB that demonstrate the importance of regular eye checks and why the legislation is important. First, a 2001 survey showed that more than 40 per cent of people who are exempt from paying for check-ups are unaware that they are exempt. Secondly, since 1989, when the Tories introduced charges, there has been a progressive increase in the proportion of people who leave up to five years between sight tests. Finally, a survey that was published earlier this month in Wales showed that one person in five has never heard of glaucoma and that just 3 per cent know that a person could suffer from glaucoma without necessarily displaying any symptoms. Up to 40 per cent of useful sight can be lost before a person realises that anything is wrong, but if it is caught early enough glaucoma can, in nearly all cases, be successfully treated and no sight need be lost.
There is proof that charges deter people from having regular check-ups, even when they may be eligible for free tests. Regular check-ups can catch dental problems and eye problems such as glaucoma before they become more serious. When the Health Committee took evidence on the bill, the proposal to provide free eye and dental checks received near universal support. Their provision represents an excellent progressive step for Scotland. The recent Kerr review stated:
"the most appropriate place for the Health Service to begin to narrow the gap between rich and poor is through the systematic adoption of the principles of anticipatory care and preventive medicine."
I see free eye and dental checks as the embodiment of anticipatory care and preventive medicine.
The banning of smoking in enclosed public places will be the most important piece of public health legislation since devolution. The bill represents a good day for Parliament and for the Liberal Democrats.
I join other colleagues in thanking the clerks to the committee, other staff who are associated with the committee and the many witnesses who gave evidence for the huge efforts that they put into helping the bill's passage through Parliament. The clerks to the committee are becoming old hands at dealing with legislation, so I place on record my gratitude to them.
It is a great honour to stand here today as a member of the Labour party, which has been at the forefront of striving to address health inequalities, and to speak in support of a bill that I consider to be one of the most significant pieces of public health legislation in Scottish history. That point was also made by Nora Radcliffe. One of my constituents recently told me that he believed that the bill is the most important piece of legislation in his lifetime. We should all be proud that the Scottish Parliament is taking such a decisive lead.
In considering legislation such as this, it is always good to examine the experiences of other countries, so the Health Committee did just that during its deliberations. We took video evidence from New York and we visited southern Ireland. We learned a great deal from their practical experience of passing and enforcing legislation such as that which we are about to vote on today. The legislation gives us an opportunity to address our poor health record here in Scotland.
I represent a constituency that has very high incidences of death from strokes, cancer and heart disease. I am sure that no one—not even in the Conservative party—would doubt that a hugely significant number of deaths from those diseases throughout Scotland are caused by smoking. For too long we have done little to address that, but now we are getting serious. I am pleased that the bill has, by and large, attracted cross-party support, but I am disappointed—although not particularly surprised—that we have heard during the passage of the bill that the Conservatives are still campaigning against the ban on smoking. They ignore medical evidence and continue to argue that they know best and that passive smoking does not exist. The wrecking amendments—
I am sorry, but we heard Brian Monteith's arguments in the committee and we have heard exactly the same arguments today. They have been voted down on both occasions. The wrecking amendments that were rejected by Parliament today and, as I said, the similar amendments that were previously rejected by the committee, expose the Tories' real agenda of
To argue—as the Tories have done—that a ban on smoking in public places is an attack on civil liberties is simply wrong. The ban is clearly an attack on one of the major causes of ill health, but I argue that it will defend the civil liberties of the 70 per cent of Scots who do not smoke. An outright ban on smoking may well be attacked as being an attack on civil liberties, but a ban on smoking in public places, which will benefit the health of smokers and non-smokers, including staff who work in smoky environments, does not constitute anything other than common sense. It is a prime example of what we as policy makers should be doing to promote Scotland's public health.
I hope that today we will pass the bill, which deals not only with a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. It is unfortunate that some of the other very important measures in the bill have not enjoyed the same profile as the smoking ban. Nonetheless, we have heard about a number of them today, including during the minister's opening speech.
The bill will not in itself cure Scotland of its appalling health record. However, it represents a hugely significant first step; a first leap towards a better and brighter country. We should all embrace that. Like the minister, I am proud to be part of this historic occasion in Parliament today. I am delighted to support the bill and I hope that Parliament will follow suit.
This is not the end and it is not the beginning of the end, but it might just be the end of the beginning in eliminating the evil trade of the tobacco barons.
People who are called Stewart obviously have a particular view on the subject of tobacco. My colleague Stewart Maxwell is, in comparison with me, a moderate on the issue. I commend him for bringing the issue into play through his previous member's bill and I congratulate the Executive on responding to it and bringing forward wider measures. All are to be praised to the skies for that.
As an extremist on the subject, I have of course studied it in some detail. The cigarette came to these islands during the Crimean war, when our soldiers saw the French and the Turks smoking this new device. War has proved to be a remarkably effective platform for the evil people in the tobacco companies to broaden the franchise for this pernicious addiction. During the second world war, the proud boast of the tobacco companies was that they provided two packs of
A wide range of health conditions are derived from the use of tobacco in a variety of delivery mechanisms and many famous people have died as a result of their addiction. Jackie Kennedy lost a child two days after that child was born, entirely because she had smoked during her pregnancy. She died of lung cancer, but she is far from alone. I have with me 13 pages of names of well known people: Gracie Allen, Louis Armstrong, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Tallulah Bankhead, Leonard Bernstein, Neville Brand, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Brinegar, Yul Brynner, Rory Calhoun, John Candy, Jack Cassidy, Rosemary Clooney, Nat King Cole—have members noticed that many of those people might have been smoking in public for entertainment purposes? I have a dozen more pages of names.
Of course, we are not here to protect the great and the good; we are here to protect the ordinary people of Scotland. By passing the bill we will take a great step forward and we will set an example for others, as our friends across the Irish sea did. Yesterday, Shaun Woodward, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State in the Northern Ireland Office with responsibility for health, made an announcement that relates to our debate. People in Northern Ireland have responded in huge numbers—some 70,000—to a consultation on smoking. Of that huge number of respondents, 91 per cent said that Northern Ireland should follow the example that Ireland has set and which Scotland is following. They have said that because they could see what was happening across the border.
I will paraphrase Tom Nairn. Scotland's people will not be free of the health scourge that we have been debating until the last tobacco share certificate has been wrapped around the last ounce of tobacco and smoked by the last tobacco addict—given his current form, perhaps that will be Brian Monteith.
How can I follow Stewart Stevenson?
I warmly welcome the bill on behalf of the Scottish Green Party. I will mention my reservations about the bill first and get them out of the way so that I can finish on an optimistic note. I am concerned about the fact that the bill has been described as "the smoking bill" or "the bill about smoking and other stuff". The bill deals with a wide range of issues, many of which do not sit well together. I am happy with most of the bill's content and I will support it, but its provisions are ill sorted.
The range of issues with which the bill deals was reflected in the lobbying that all members received about the bill. Various organisations sent us briefing notes and letters. For example, the RNIB Scotland commented on eye checks for children. Although Kate Maclean's amendment 63 was not agreed to, I am happy with the Executive's reaffirmation that eyesight tests for pre-school children—a measure that is dear to my heart—are secure, and with its commitment to consider evidence on eyesight programmes that emerges in the future. Stoma users expressed concern about potential changes to their services. I hope that those concerns will prove to be unfounded and that the minister's reassurances on the matter will be honoured. I am sure that stoma patients will get in touch with us—and that we will get in touch with the minister—if there are problems.
We heard from publicans and representatives of the licensed trade. I am happy to say that, from my experience in Ireland, I think that their fears are unfounded and that they will not suffer the loss of trade that they expect. Their businesses will do well and will attract people who currently do not often go to pubs. About 70 per cent of people do not smoke; many of them find smoky pubs unpleasant and object to being smelly when they come out of such pubs.
We were lobbied by sufferers of hepatitis C. I will say more about the matter, but I think that we let that group down today.
We were lobbied by Unison, which is concerned about joint ventures. I am concerned about the level of public sector involvement that that might entail. It would have been good to debate those points, so it is a pity that the member who lodged the relevant amendment was not here to speak to it.
I warmly support the provisions on eye and dental checks, but reiterate what other members have said: checks are fine, but we must also be able to offer treatment. As has been said before in the chamber—it will be said again, particularly by members from the Highlands and Islands—we need more dentists. That will not happen overnight and I do not expect the Executive to wave a magic wand, but we must start growing more of our own dentists.
The hepatitis C issue somewhat tarnishes the shining face of the bill, which is really unfortunate; we could have done better today. I am however, warmly supportive of the smoking provisions. The bill will make great legislation. It is innovative and courageous and I hope that it will have a tremendous effect on our public health, particularly the health of young women. Rates of smoking among young women are worryingly high and have not been going down. There is a large social element to that. I am sure that many young
Although I have reservations about parts of the bill—I think that they would have been better in separate legislation—there is so much in the bill that I must support. We will give it our warm-hearted support at 6 o'clock, or whenever we actually vote on it.
Today in the Scottish Parliament I believe that we are witnessing a moment in history. Those who vote for the bill today vote to improve the health and lives of future generations.
Sometimes, we in the Parliament are accused of irrelevance or political expediency. From time to time, we are justly criticised. Today, we do the right thing as legislators. Our primary motivations are to increase life expectancy, to reduce ill health and to address health inequalities. In doing so, and in tackling preventable illness and early death, we also increase resources in the health service for research into new drugs and the development of new technology to assist us to treat illnesses that some would say have been underresourced—Huntington's chorea, multiple sclerosis, motor neurone disease, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. Today, therefore, we are in a win-win situation.
There has been a sea change in attitudes towards the banning of smoking in public places. This piece of legislation would not have been possible six years ago. For those of us who have campaigned on the matter over the years, the legislation represents the widest possible ban that could have been obtained at this point in time. Since the stage 1 debate, we have travelled a considerable distance and made great progress. I am especially pleased that the Executive has held its ground on day centres. In the face of arguments from both sides, the Executive has strictly limited exemptions in adult care homes and psychiatric units to designated smoking rooms and extended the definition of enclosed areas to include partly enclosed areas.
I am delighted at the minister's commitment to work in the future with the cross-party group on
Members might be interested to know that Queensland is considering extending its ban to outside areas. Also, visitors from California who have been staying with me over the past week tell me that California intends to extend its ban to public parks, not because of evidence of ill health, but simply because smoking has become socially unacceptable, especially for young people. It is my hope that the bill, which is comprehensive, will start the ball rolling in Scotland and ensure that it is only a matter of time before smoking is the exception, not the norm, particularly among our young people. Helping people to kick the habit must be an integral part of the policy development.
I said during the stage 1 debate that there was a moral imperative to act because smoking kills 19,000 Scots every year. One death in five in Scotland is smoking related. We know that smoking is responsible for 33,500 hospital admissions every year and that second-hand smoke is a class A carcinogen. That costs the NHS in Scotland an estimated £200 million every year. That is the financial cost, but every member can give an example of the human cost. Today, we take concrete measures to address that problem in Scotland.
It would be remiss of me to conclude without thanking members of the cross-party group on tobacco control, members of the Health Committee clerking team, who assisted me with the drafting of amendments, Action on Smoking and Health, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and many others who have worked together to make today possible. However, without the commitment of the Scottish Executive, the health ministers and the First Minister, who took the lead on the matter, we would not have such a comprehensive bill. The Scottish Parliament can stand tall. We can be proud of the legacy that we put in place today for our children and our children's children.
I support the motion to pass the bill.
To begin with, I will focus on part 2 of the bill, which contains enabling
"to any person providing, or proposing to provide, general dental services."
For the public to benefit fully from the free dental checks that the bill makes available, everyone needs to have access to good NHS dental services. The proof of the pudding is always in the eating and Lewis Macdonald—the new Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care—who has responsibility for NHS dental services, has a huge task to ensure that, when the bill's provisions come into operation next year, everyone who needs it has access to an NHS dentist. If access to NHS dental services for all is not forthcoming, the Executive will have failed in its objective. I do not expect Executive ministers to fail in that task.
It is fortunate that the problems of accessing NHS dental services are not replicated in optometry. Public access to free eye checks should not pose the same problems, but I urge the Executive to ensure that, now that plans for the reform of the dental and ophthalmic services are in place, we put those plans into action as soon as possible. Agreement with both professions on the implementation of the provisions on ophthalmic and dental services must be reached soon. We need to up the pace on those issues.
Part 1 of the bill contains provisions to prohibit smoking in enclosed public places. For far too long, the rights of individuals to enjoy clean air and be free of cancer-causing pollutants have been ignored. Smoking kills, as does so-called second-hand smoke. As recently as last year, Professor David Hole's research concluded that second-hand smoke was associated with up to 2,000 deaths a year in Scotland. I have no truck with those such as the Conservatives who refuse to recognise the medical evidence. They are the same people who for years refused to accept that tobacco kills people.
Even now, the tobacco lobby is active in trying to deny the effects of environmental tobacco smoke. Its latest wheeze—may I call it a wheeze?—is to claim that if only bars and restaurants could install super-duper ventilation systems, all would be well. Unfortunately for the tobacco industry, the evidence that was presented to the Health Committee completely debunks the myth that ventilation systems can remove the harmful effects
There is no doubt in my mind that the bill will make a huge contribution to making Scotland a healthier place to live. The members of the Health Committee made a very useful visit to see for themselves the effects that legislation on smoking has had on Irish communities and people. The Irish ban, which was introduced on 29 March last year, has been a huge success. We were told that the compliance rate with the legislation is a very high 94 per cent. Cigarette sales fell by 10 per cent in 2003 and by a further 17 per cent in 2004. No wonder the death merchants of the tobacco trade are worried.
I have no doubt at all that there may indeed be some fall in trade, as the Scottish Licensed Trade Association has highlighted. However, I cannot for one moment accept that that argument carries any weight at all when put alongside the public health benefits that the measures in the bill will produce. One cannot argue for profit before lives.
This is a landmark bill. It includes major policies such as free eye and dental checks for all and it endorses the right of people to enjoy clean air in enclosed public places. Parliament should support the bill with enthusiasm; it is the right thing to do.
I never thought that I would see this day and I never expected that I would be a politician and in Parliament on such a day. Honestly and truly, I thought that it would never happen.
When I qualified in 1965, one of my first jobs was in a thoracic unit. If I was ever in any doubt about what cigarette smoking could do to a person, I learned then. Later, I worked as an anaesthetist for eight years. Let me assure members that somebody who has been a smoker can have difficulties and can make it hard for the anaesthetist. We always dreaded having to put to sleep somebody who said that they smoked 20 cigarettes a day but probably really smoked 40 or 80 a day.
I thank Stewart Maxwell for starting the ball rolling. It was a wonderful start and the Executive has to be congratulated on taking it up. This has been a wonderful attempt to look for the first time at long-term benefits. Governments do not usually do that sort of thing; I would never have thought
Members will have guessed that I am in favour of the bill. There have been a few glitches along the way and I am a little bit sad about the dates for the Skipton Fund. However, we must think about the reductions in heart and lung disease, strokes, diabetes and kidney disease that will follow from the bill. Kidney disease is on the rise. Much of that is to do with vascular problems and many vascular problems come from cigarette smoking.
We all know that a person who goes back to smoking after a bypass operation is more likely to have to have the operation redone. Of the people I know or have worked with who smoke, most would love to stop. The bill is one way of encouraging them, but we will have to do a lot to help people to stop smoking, which is a serious addiction. Trying to stop smoking is as bad as trying to stop taking heroin. I know that, because my parents were heavy smokers. I have known many other people who would be addicted again tomorrow if they had one cigarette. Addiction to tobacco is serious and people need a great deal of help when trying to stop smoking.
We were worried about what would happen in homes as a result of the bill. I was encouraged by the evidence from Australia that I read, which did not find any resulting increase in the incidence of smoking in homes or of childhood illnesses.
Like all other members, I worry about the workforce for the dental side of things, but I appreciate what the Executive is trying to do. I remind members that doctors examine patients' digestive tracts. The digestive tract starts in the mouth, so oral examinations can be done by general practitioners. When examining people, GPs may also notice that there are a few things to fix in people's teeth, which they cannot do—for that, people will have to go to their dentist, if they have one. However, oral checks are part of a medical examination. General practitioners can look in people's mouths to see whether any cancer is lurking there.
I will limit my comments to a few issues that worry me. Pharmaceutical services are changing greatly. We have been lobbied a great deal by people who enjoy stoma services from companies that supply the appliances. Many years ago, those companies started supplying nurses and contributing to the cost of their services. I have never known a nurse push a particular product. As I said at the Health Committee, stomas are as individual as the people who have them, so they need special attention. I appreciate the fact that the Minister for Health and Community Care and his deputy have tried to allay fears on the issue. I would like to ensure that they make clear, as they
Another important provision that I have read in regulations concerns the indemnity for all practitioners other than doctors, nurses and dentists, which is important for patients, in particular. In Scotland and England, indemnity is usually provided by the Medical Defence Union. Usually, insurance policies start on the date on which the policy was issued and end on the stated date. If practitioners fail in any way to keep up the policy and do patients harm, patients may suffer.
This is a huge bill, any part of which could have been a bill in itself. If we had not already worked on the Prohibition of Smoking in Regulated Areas (Scotland) Bill, which was introduced by Stewart Maxwell, we would have had difficulty dealing with it. As all members know, I have great doubts about the provisions relating to joint ventures. I have found that private companies limited by guarantee that are not wholly made up of public bodies do not seem to be subject to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002. I am not against private companies being involved, but I would not like them to take over the NHS or the medical needs of people working in the NHS and, subsequently, patients. I would like to be reassured on that issue.
I am delighted with most of the bill. I am ecstatic about the provisions that relate to smoking. It is wonderful for me to be here today to see history created. I appreciate all the work that was put in by the clerks and others, who are great when members try to lodge amendments but do not know what they are doing. I congratulate all those, from top to bottom, who have been involved with the bill, as they have been very hard-working. I wish the bill well and am sure that the health of our nation will improve as a result. In 15 to 20 years, we will be very pleased that we passed it.
It is rare for people to admit that they are wrong; it is rarer still for politicians to do so. Given that this is the last day before the recess and judging colleagues to be in forgiving mood, I open my remarks with a confession—maybe it is even an apology. I was wrong about smoking.
I am pleased to make my contribution to today's proceedings as joint convener of the cross-party group on cancer and as a member of the cross-party group on asthma. I speak also as a former smoker. Twenty years ago—indeed, probably a lot more recently—I would have called the bill a step too far. In the 1980s, I distinctly remember watching television programmes and reports from America on the first bans on smoking in public places, including in restaurants—I think the Californians went first. I remember seeing smokers and anti-smokers—I call them that because they were not just non-smokers—having heated altercations, one of which resulted in an interviewee throwing a glass of water over another interviewee. I felt at the time that I was watching one set of extremists imposing their view on another—indeed, I remember describing it as health fascism. I also remember decrying any link between health and passive smoking, a position that I held mostly through ignorance.
I have travelled a long way in 20 years. At that time, someone could smoke in their workplace. It was a rare desk at the BBC, where I worked in those days, that did not have an ashtray piled high with cigarette ends. Even I did not mind the removal of that supposed right. All of us at the BBC immediately noticed the improvement in the environment in which we worked.
It took a few years and a few attempts before I managed to stop smoking. Looking back on it now, I can see that I managed to stop because I did not go to the pub as often as I had done previously. I am not saying that everyone should stop going to the pub in order to stop smoking. However, if pubs had been non-smoking when I was trying to give up smoking, I would have found it easier to quit.
I am also no libertarian: I believe that Governments can make a difference by doing good and helping to improve people's lives. I am supporting the bill not because I want to impose my own preferences or tastes on others or because of my own personal journey but because public attitudes, too, have changed dramatically over the past 20 years. Just as it is no longer acceptable to drive drunk or to tell racist jokes, I believe that Scotland is ready to accept a ban on smoking in public places.
I agree that individual rights have to be balanced with the public good. I also agree that we are redrawing the line as to what is acceptable. However, it is precisely because of that public good that the arguments for the bill are overwhelming persuasive. How many members have used their position in the Scottish Parliament to argue for a new positron emission tomography scanner for cancer patients, for example? How many of us have argued for extra ring-fenced resources for the Beatson oncology centre or
All those measures will make a big difference to patients but none is even remotely on the scale of what we will achieve if we can reduce the number of Scots who smoke. Millions of people worldwide and more than 13,000 people a year in Scotland die prematurely because of smoking. The scale of the problem is immense and so is the importance of supporting the bill that is before us today.
The Scottish Parliament was established not just to manage the government of Scotland better but to build a better future. Although we are all proud to be Scottish, I for one am not proud that Scotland has the worst cancer record, worst heart disease record and worst dental health record of any modern European country. I did not come into the Scottish Parliament to defend the right of young Scots to have a cigarette but to see all our children grow up healthy—taller, fitter, more self-confident and enjoying life.
Although I started off with an apology, I make no apology for the bill. Quite simply, the bill is one of the most important measures that we will take in a generation. Today of all days I am very proud to serve in the Scottish Parliament.
I start by making a couple of remarks about the provisions in the bill—other than the central purpose of addressing smoking—that are worthy of comment. Free dental checks are universally welcomed, notwithstanding the plans that have been announced, but MSPs who represent rural Scotland have placed an enormous question mark over the capacity of the dental service to deliver free checks and free dental care. The most intense monitoring will be required to guarantee that that legislative commitment, for which I will vote enthusiastically at 6 o'clock, is delivered in all our communities. I do not underestimate the scale of the challenge that ministers face.
My second point relates to the issue of stoma appliances, on which I have received several letters from constituents. I accept that ministers have engaged constructively in trying to find a solution to address such concerns and that the recent answer from Rhona Brankin to a parliamentary question helps in that respect. I hope that it will address the public's concerns.
My one regret about the bill relates to the issue that I spoke about earlier in relation to the Skipton Fund. I will not say much more about that, other than that rejecting amendment 24 would have made a very good bill an excellent one. I have only one comment about the antics that we had earlier.
The result of the vote on amendment 24 was 56 to 52 and I was on the losing side. I have been lectured to by the Scottish Socialist Party more times than I care to remember about the Skipton Fund and hepatitis C, but if five members from the SSP had been here, I would not have been on the losing side this afternoon. Our distinguished Presiding Officer said some fine words to us about the importance of democracy and speaking one's mind, but democracy also means being in the right place at the right time to vote for what one believes in, rather than manning the barricades. The less I say about the matter, the less trouble I will get into, but I repeat that, if those five members had been here, that would have tipped the vote over the edge and we would have had a truly excellent bill. I hope that members learn a lesson from that stupidity.
On the smoking provisions, I support the amendment that surfaced from Duncan McNeil that will allow the age limit for the purchase of cigarettes to be raised. I agree with Stewart Maxwell that we must encourage ministers to do that, because the more disincentives to smoking that we put in place, the better. I hope that the Government looks seriously at that point and formulates further regulations on the matter.
The bill's provisions on smoking have not come about by accident; several people over several years have contributed to them. My colleague Kenny Gibson, who was a member in the first session of Parliament, raised the issue to much derision and mirth, but that started the debate. Stewart Maxwell has taken up the cudgels effectively. [Interruption.]
I commend the Executive for taking the issue further and creating a bill with which to address the problem. I am not yet familiar with the mechanics of Government—I stress the word "yet"—but, while I commend the First Minister and the Minister for Health and Community Care for bringing the bill to the Parliament, I am pretty certain that it is here because of the stance that Mr McCabe took when he was Deputy Minister for Health and Community Care. It is worth putting that on record.
The bill says to the people of Scotland that we, as a democratic Parliament, are looking at Scotland as we find it today and seeing the depth and seriousness of the problems and challenges that our society faces. It is therefore essential that we respond with well-crafted and bold legislation that has a big effect and that can lead to a culture change in our society. The bill will become the type of legislation that can change a culture in our society and make our country healthier and fitter
Much has been said about the commercial implications of the ban on smoking in public places. I suspect that the proof of the pudding will be in the eating, but I take a lot of comfort from examples around the country of businesses that have taken a lead and have simply got on with things. Such businesses have seen the mood of the nation and the direction of legislation and have decided what they are going to do.
As we embark on the summer recess, I say to the Minister for Health and Community Care that if he has time to spare, perhaps on the day when he visits the excellent Whitehills community hospital in Forfar, he could travel to a fantastic ice cream parlour called Visocchi's in the town of Kirriemuir, which is perhaps five miles north of Forfar. I have just thought of that. Weeks ago, Michael and Elena Visocchi took the courageous decision to ban smoking in their cafe. They took that decision with some trepidation, but business has been fine and people who would never have gone into the cafe because it was smoky now go into it with their children. If the minister is looking for a good place for an ice cream when he comes to Forfar on 13 August, I shall give him directions to the cafe. I might even pay for him.
To draw on the earlier reference to the Crimea, I rather sense that I am leading the light cavalry into the Russian guns at Balaclava.
Before I proceed, I thank the Health Committee's clerks, who have been particularly helpful to me and my colleagues in drafting amendments and giving us timely advice. Not all of them are here, but I pay tribute to their work in particular, which has helped the political process.
It is unfortunate that the Conservatives cannot support the bill. We would have liked to support it, but we believe that the sections on free eye tests and dental checks and the total ban on smoking go further than is necessary. We would support more screening for tests with schoolchildren and more targeting of dental checks, but I remain unconvinced that it is necessary to extend the current free provision to everyone who can afford
The Conservatives do not support the status quo on smoking restrictions. We would support the extension of restrictions and we could have supported more being done, but a total ban goes too far. From April fools' day next year, there will be no smoking in pubs, restaurants, cafes, bingo halls, airport departure lounges or even in specialist tobacconists. Private members' clubs—which can hardly be called public places—will also be covered by the ban. In an example of cultural censorship that would have embarrassed the ancient Philistines, even the portrayal of smoking on stage or in a television studio in which "River City", for example, might be being filmed will be banned.
On the evidence, no one has yet been able to explain how a Labour Minister for Health and Community Care in Edinburgh and a Labour Secretary of State for Health in London can reach entirely opposite views on the threat that is posed by inhaling other people's tobacco smoke. In Edinburgh, the evidence that tobacco smoke kills people is considered to be conclusive, but in London, it is not. The result is that the smoking ban is England will not be total, but partial, which is a proportionate response that respects the rights of minorities. No such tolerance is to be allowed in Scotland. There is no medical evidence that shows that passive smoking kills. Indeed, as we found last month, in a landmark ruling by the Scottish judge Lord Nimmo Smith, even the medical evidence to show that direct smoking kills is not considered conclusive. That is the crux of the matter. All that we have is statistical evidence about the dangers of smoking, although that evidence is generally accepted, even by me.
Janis Hughes suggested that Conservative members are putting profit before the concerns of people. As someone who lost his father—who was a smoker—to lung cancer, I do not dispute the health concerns, but I will not be lectured to on the basis that I am making a judgment that is somehow influenced by the profit that is made by tobacconists. The statistical evidence is quite different from the medical evidence. We already know that the medical evidence is disputed and that the statistical evidence, although we accept it, is hotly disputed by learned scientists who do not smoke, who detest smoking and who are not necessarily, and not often, in the pay of tobacco barons.
The dispute on the evidence is being ignored because the ministers wish to introduce a total ban. The evidence is being accepted in England because Westminster plans to introduce a partial ban. The real aim of ministers in Scotland—I pay tribute to Andy Kerr for being honest about it—is to denormalise smoking. They want to stigmatise smokers, so that people will give up smoking. So much for the inclusive society that so many MSPs constantly talk about. Someone can be Catholic, Muslim, Protestant, atheist or heathen; they can be straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender; and they can be of any colour, and there shall be no bigotry, discrimination or exclusion. That is how it should be, and I support that view. I sign up to it. Each to their own within the law, I say. However, if someone is a smoker, they are excluded—the bill will exclude them. They will not be considered normal. Their smoking will not be considered normal and it will not be allowed to be portrayed as normal. That is what denormalisation means.
No. I must carry on.
The logical extension of that is to ban smoking altogether. I know that one or two members would like to do that, but the Parliament will not do that because it knows that that would not carry the support of the public.
The smoking issue divides our nation, which is why an accommodation—a compromise—should have been found. I believe that ventilation offered that compromise, but it was not considered seriously. Indeed, the Health Committee suspended the laws of physics and would not accept the fact that gases mix. Gas laws tell us that when ventilation extracts particles and gases, it extracts them at the same ratio because they mix. Ventilation fans do not work out first whether the gases are carcinogenic; they extract them at the same ratio.
If we suspend the laws of physics and do not accept the advice of learned scientists who tell us that the evidence is not conclusive, we cannot say that we have considered the issue seriously. If we had reached a compromise and found some places where people could smoke, it would have been possible for the Conservatives to support the bill. People could have chosen to go to bars and restaurants where there was no smoke or they could have chosen to go to places where people could smoke and mixed freely. Sadly, that will not happen. Smoking will be denormalised in this country, along with tolerance. Tolerance is being
I start on a rather disappointing note in relation to the reinsertion of the cut-off date for claims to the Skipton Fund. It is rather unfortunate that that happened. I, for one, was delighted to be here today and to be moving to a conclusion on the bill so that we could have a healthier Scotland in the future through the banning of smoking in public places. I believe that the Executive is simply wrong on the issue, but I lay the blame for allowing the Executive to reinsert the date not on it but squarely at the door of the Scottish Socialist Party members. Their pathetic, childish, amateurish and downright anti-democratic antics at First Minister's questions meant that they could not be here this afternoon when the vote was taken and narrowly lost. In my opinion, that is unforgivable. John Swinney was right on that point.
The minister was right when he said that this was an historic day. I am delighted to have been involved so closely in the campaign to introduce a ban on smoking in enclosed public places. Many people were involved in that campaign. As John Swinney said, Kenny Gibson in the first session, Brian Adam, Tom McCabe and the current Minister for Health and Community Care have been involved and the First Minister threw his weight behind the campaign. Others throughout the chamber, particularly those who are on the cross-party group on tobacco control, have been involved.
It is funny—we often hear it said that a week is a long time in politics, but two years seems a very short period of time in relation to the legislation on smoking. Two years ago, I launched the proposal, which was that we would ban smoking in public places; that was my intention. With a few honourable exceptions throughout the parties, I was almost a lone voice on the subject at that time. Indeed, 18 months ago, the First Minister said that a smoking ban was both unworkable and impractical and the Liberal Democrat Deputy First Minister agreed.
What a tremendous turnaround there has been in the past 18 months. I am delighted that so many members and parties have changed their mind and stance and now support this extremely important and welcome health measure, which is of course SNP policy. The Lib Dems cannot rewrite history, as Nora Radcliffe tried to do and as Mike Rumbles has tried to do before. I have ignored it before, but today I will mention it. The Liberal Democrats were not the first party to support a public smoking ban; that is just not true. They can repeat the claim as often as they like,
No. The member had her chance. The SNP was the first party to support the ban; that is a matter of fact and it is on the record. Let us get that clear.
One thing that was missing from the minister's opening speech was what will happen in the next 15 months or so. That is important and I hope that the minister, when he sums up, will set out what will happen in the run-up to the ban. It is clear that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have often talked about people taking this opportunity to give up cigarettes in advance of the legislation coming into force. In Norway, there was a 3 per cent drop in smoking rates before the legislation came into force. What education programmes and advertising campaigns will there be? Can the Executive tell us about anything else that will happen in that extremely important period? I said 15 months, but that is incorrect—it is less than a year until the ban comes in. I would like to know exactly what we are going to do in the run-up. Let us ensure that we do not miss the opportunity.
When I was preparing for the debate, I decided to read about the history of smoking—not the current situation in Scotland and the figure of 13,000 deaths a year from smoking-related ill health that we all know about. One of the interesting facts that struck me was that ever since tobacco arrived in Europe, it has generated huge debate and controversy. Stewart Stevenson said that in the Crimean war many of our soldiers were introduced to cigarettes for the first time. Of course, the history of tobacco goes back a lot further than that of cigarettes. It is thought that tobacco plants first began to grow around 6,000 BC in the Americas. By the start of the Christian era, tobacco use was well established all over the Americas, but there is no record of tobacco being grown or used anywhere else in the world. When the American continent was first opened up, tobacco use spread out of it to Europe. However, the far east, for example, did not adopt the habit. China banned the planting and use of tobacco in 1612 and Japan followed suit in 1620—if only they had kept those bans in place.
Things were slightly different in Europe. In 1665, smoking was made compulsory for boys at Eton College—perhaps that explains the Tory view today. Right from its introduction into Europe, there were conflicting theories and views about tobacco. At the end of the 16th century, tobacco was attracting interest from many herbalists and was believed to be good for treating many illnesses from toothache to colic. Yet, as early as 1602, a book was published that claimed that illnesses in chimney sweeps were linked to their exposure to smoke and drew a parallel with
In 1914, there were only 371 cases of lung cancer in the whole of the United States of America. In 1919, a young medical student who went on to do important work on the link between smoking and cancer was told to attend an operation on lung cancer because it was so rare that that might be his only chance to see it in his career. However, by 2003, there were 172,000 cases of lung cancer in the USA. The number of cases rose from 371 in 1914, to 2,500 by 1930 and to more than 7,000 by 1940. What had changed? Smoking was being taken up by more and more Americans. Cigarette rations were given to soldiers during the first world war and smoking among men became prevalent. Women did not take up smoking until the end of the second world war and many women are today suffering from the effect of that cultural shift.
The 20th century was the century of the cigarette, but I hope that the 21st century is a century of no cigarettes and that we move away from tobacco, smoking and the disease and ill health that they bring.
Many people have been involved in the bill. I thank the campaigners outwith the Parliament, the staff of the non-Executive bills unit and the clerks of the Health Committee, the Subordinate Legislation Committee and the Finance Committee, who worked extremely hard on the bill. I also thank the staff in my office, who worked extremely hard in the background to ensure the success of the campaign.
It is not often that one gets a chance to force a subject to the top of the political agenda and see it succeed and I feel extremely privileged to have done so. I have been asked many times why I took up this issue. My motivation is simple. I fought this campaign for the young people of Scotland, for the children who are not yet born and, in particular, for the future of Catherine, my daughter. She will grow up and go out to smoke-free restaurants and pubs and go to work in smoke-free places. For her sake and for the sake of all the children of Scotland, I take the greatest pleasure in supporting the bill this evening.
Many emotions are felt on a day such as this. Many members have talked about their
It was my good fortune that I was able to pick up the legislation as minister at the point that I did, as that gave me the opportunity to see it through its final parliamentary stages. As many members have done, I must mention the First Minister, who has led from the front, Tom McCabe, Malcolm Chisholm, Rhona Brankin, Lewis Macdonald, the cross-party group on tobacco control, Scotland CAN—which stands for clear air now—and other organisations outwith the Parliament, Stewart Maxwell, Kenny Gibson and other members from various parties who have done a lot of work on the subject.
However, although I feel a sense of good fortune and pride, I also feel a little bit of anger that, when people turn on their televisions tonight, they will probably see four juvenile, spoiled little brats from the SNP—[Laughter.] Sorry, I should say four juvenile, spoiled little brats from the SSP who put their own narrow political interest before that of the Parliament.
It is about time that the Tories caught up. On the economic arguments, let me quote James McBratney, who owns a bar and a restaurant in New York and was the main campaigner against the smoking ban in the city. However, he has since said:
"I've seen no falloff in business in either establishment".
He went on to describe what he once considered unimaginable—customers seeming to like the ban. He has said that he likes it, too. In Scotland, Stuart Ross, the chief executive of the Belhaven Group, recently said:
"It's not the end of the world. It's just a big situation for people to manage. But the Irish have adapted to it. Why should Scotland be any different?"
On the health evidence, I must say that Mr Monteith is not the leader of a band of hearty soldiers going into battle; he is like King Canute standing before the waves in rejecting all the evidence from the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health, the World Health Organisation, all the research done by universities around the world and the evidence from Ireland and New York about the positive effects that such a ban will have.
What can we expect to happen? It might, as some people claim, take 10 to 15 years for our health figures to turn around but, in the first two years of the ban in New York, 188,000 people stopped smoking—a 15 per cent reduction in the number of smokers—and exposure to second-hand smoke dropped by a third. In Ireland, cigarette sales are down by 15 per cent in just one
Of course, many others have been involved in the long campaign for a ban. I had the privilege to meet Sir John and Dr Eileen Crofton, who, 50 years ago, were early campaigners on the issue. They campaigned for the first smoke-free taxi in Edinburgh. They stuck with the campaign for all those years and we should recognise their contribution. One night in Edinburgh, I had the honour to meet Barbara Wood from Aberdeenshire. Her husband, who is now sadly dead, was a lifelong non-smoker. He was a head teacher who spent far too much of his life in smoke-filled staffrooms. Those are the real people whom we are fighting for today. We want to ensure that we deliver for them and their families.
Up in the gallery today are representatives from Firrhill High School. If members look up, they might see some familiar faces—the young pupils who brought to the Parliament their campaign to ban smoking in public places. Their maturity, skill and determination have been shown today—we met them at Bute House earlier and, on Sky TV, they said that what is right for young people is right for Scotland and that they support the measures that the Parliament is about to take in relation to a smoke-free Scotland.
People throughout the world fought year after year for democratic Parliaments and we are no different here in Scotland. Scots campaigned for 300 years for the Scottish Parliament. Why did they do that? They did that to see democratically elected representatives debate and decide on the issues that matter to them and their families under laws established by the Parliament. They did not campaign so hard simply to see a handful of self-publicists treat the country's Parliament like a school playground. Today must be remembered not for the antics of the infantile few, but for the momentous decision that we are on the verge of making.
Devolution means that we can no longer blame others for our national ills. We have no excuse for abdicating our responsibility for tackling our poor health. Today, our country will lead the way in the UK and we will be at the forefront of change in Europe. I would have preferred it if our Conservative colleagues had embraced the bill fully and put the national interest before private interests, but I fully expect them to respect the Parliament's decision when it is made. I say to them that the facts are absolutely clear. Smoking is bad for people's health; second-hand smoke is bad for people's health; and smoking is bad for the country's health.
The choice is clear. We can take the responsibility here and now and do something
This is another defining moment in the Parliament. This time last year, we passed the Antisocial Behaviour etc (Scotland) Bill, which provided powers to improve the lives of families and communities the length and breadth of Scotland. One year later, I urge members to support the Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill, which will improve Scotland as a whole so that families can stay together for longer, enjoy more choice about where they go and what they do and be part of a more confident, ambitious and healthy Scotland.
As the minister who is responsible at this stage of the bill's progress, I welcome the opportunity to commend the legislation. I thank all those who have played their part over the years—including those who are in the chamber today—and I note their contribution. I was sent many e-mails on the matter and, as I travelled around Scotland, people's warmth towards, and support for, the bill was all too clear. Mr Keith Hughes of Edinburgh sent me a thought whose sentiment is engraved on the pavement outside the Writers Museum at Lady Stair's House. He said that the only way we can repay our debt to the past is by making the future indebted to us. I believe that that is what we are about to do.