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Caithness News Bulletins March 2006

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Highland Council    
OFFICERS APPOINTED TO "POLICE" SMOKING BAN
Two officers have been appointed by The Highland Council to "police" the ban on smoking in enclosed areas, which takes effect in the early hours of Sunday morning. Ian Wilson, Fort Augustus, and David Mackay, Fort William, who are former police officers, will be seen throughout the Highlands to:-
  • assess compliance of the new smoking regulations;
  • offer guidance and advice and if necessary; and, if necessary
  • carry out enforcement action, including the service of fixed penalty notices.

Ian retired in 2002 after 30 years service in Ayrshire, while David served with Northern Constabulary in Orkney, Shetland, Nairn and Inverness.

Their efforts will be supported by existing environmental health staff, who will include smoking enforcement during other visits, e.g. food safety or health and safety inspections. The Scottish Executive has awarded the Council funding for the posts to allow appropriate support to be put in to place to enforce the smoking ban in public premises. The Council currently enforces health and safety at approximately 4,500 premises. Of these, approximately 1,500 are pubs and restaurants. In addition to these, the Council is responsible for enforcing the smoking ban in premises such as factories, where health and safety enforcement is currently the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive.

Initially, enforcement will be high profile. It is intended that when the ban is introduced officers from the Council's eight area offices in the Highlands will visit premises such as pubs and restaurants.

Visits to premises may be overt, where the officers announce themselves to the person in charge, on arrival; or covert, where no announcement is made. Thereafter the officers may choose to speak to the person in charge, or leave and return for a discussion the following day. It is expected that in future, after general acceptance of the legislation, officers will mainly work alone. In general enforcement will take the form of non-confrontational education and advice. However, there will be provision for formal action, including the service of fixed penalty notices and prosecution, if necessary.

Failure to comply with the law will be a criminal offence. Individuals can be fined a fixed penalty of 50 for smoking in no-smoking premises. The manager or person in control of any no-smoking premises can be fined a fixed penalty of 200 for either allowing others to smoke in no-smoking premises, or failing to display warning notices in no-smoking premises.

Refusal to pay or failure to pay may result in prosecution and a fine of up to 2,500. A guide for employers, managers and those in control of premises can be downloaded from the website http://www.clearingtheairscotland.com/faqs/pdf/Brochure.pdf

The smoke-free compliance line telephone number is 0845 130 7250 which will operate from 12 noon until midnight seven days a week, including public and bank holidays.