No smoke without ire for Environment Minister


By Kevin Duguid


The MSP complained about smokers at a fireworks display

SCOTLAND’S Environment Minister has launched an ill-tempered tirade against smokers who dare to light up in the open air.

MSP Stewart Stevenson branded four smokers puffing away next to him in Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens as “foul”. during a fireworks display in Edinburgh on Sunday.

The nationalist was upset by smokers apparently spoiling his enjoyment of the end-of-festival firework display.

Mr Stevenson then went on to praise New York for banning smoking in the American city’s famous Central Park.

The comments have riled anti-ban campaigners who fear the smoking laws in Scotland could be extended to cover the nation’s parks.

Today they branded Mr Stevenson “intolerant” and “illiberal”.

The Scottish Minister for Environment and Climate Change was attending the spectacular – and very smoky – fireworks display, when he felt compelled to Tweet his disgust at four smokers standing near him.

The Banffshire and Buchan Coast MSP said: “At Fireworks Concert. 4 smokers in Princes Street Gardens – all next to us – foul. Central Park NYC have banned smoking – well done.”

The Scottish Government recently said it has “no plans” to extend the smoking laws in the near future, but has admitted that passive smoking for children travelling in cars is a major concern for ministers.

However, groups hit out at any hint of extending the smoking ban to cover open air zones.

Simon Clark, who is the director of Forest, a group which opposes smoking bans and discrimination against smokers, said: “Calling smokers ‘foul’ says more about Mr Stevenson than it does about smokers. It demonstrates an alarming intolerance towards a significant minority of the population.

“Not even the most rabid anti-smoker could argue that their health is endangered by someone lighting up outside. And if you don’t like the smell there’s a simple remedy. Walk away.”

Mr Clark said tobacco raised billions of pounds for the Treasury, and called for smoking rooms in Scotland’s pubs and clubs. “Smokers have every right to smoke somewhere but thanks to illiberal politicians like Stewart Stevenson and his pals in Holyrood they are all forced to smoke outside,” he added.

Pedestrian plazas, such as Times and Herald Squares, along with beaches and boardwalks, golf courses and sport stadiums, are also off-limits for smokers.

And last month it was revealed that some councils and NHS Trusts in the UK planned to ban smoking in some outdoor areas such as parks.

The extension of the New York smoke-free air act is Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s biggest clampdown on smoking since he banned the habit from restaurants and bars in 2002.

Last month it was revealed that some councils and NHS Trusts in the UK planned to ban smoking in some outdoor areas such as parks to protect children.

Mr Stevenson was unavailable for comment.