Credit where credit's due
Aren’t those figures on the presumed impact of the smoking ban amazing?
Incidentally, I say “presumed” purely from professional pedantry: we are assuming, rather than proving, a causal link. For the avoidance of doubt, I believe it is an entirely reasonable assumption.
Just look at the stats in the report published today. A 17% year-on-year drop in heart attack admissions since the ban (on smoking in public places) was introduced. Exposure to second hand smoke down by 40%.
Admittedly, the trend was already downwards. But it would appear that the smoking ban has accelerated that trend dramatically. It would appear, in short, that it has worked.
So who gets the credit? Principally Jack McConnell and his health minister Andy Kerr who enacted the reform.
But it will be reasonably pointed out that this measure began as an SNP Member’s Bill - while the Liberal Democrats say they were the first party to endorse the measure as formal policy.
Myself, I would credit the people of Scotland. I freely admit that I was simply stunned by the extent to which the ban was obeyed. Quite simply, I thought it might be widely ignored.
(En passant, it was utterly ignored in the rather gruesome gents conveniences at half time at Hampden on Saturday - but perhaps one might allow a little latitude at a moment of national triumph.)
I believe the general public acceptance of this ban is due to two factors. Firstly, the measure was thoroughly discussed - and thoroughly explained. Opponents of the ban were given ample opportunity to state their case.
Secondly, it was plain that the people of Scotland accepted the legitimacy of their devolved democracy.
They accepted, implicitly and explicitly, Holyrood’s remit. They accepted the right of MSPs, having consulted, to interfere in their lives for the common good. A remarkable event, then, on several grounds.