Smoking in public places could be banned in Scotland within 18 months An indication of First Minister Jack McConnell’s plans came yesterday on a trip to Dublin, where McConnell is looking at the impact of Ireland’s smoking ban. McConnell said he was convinced that an all-out ban was "enforceable, practical and desirable". The Scotsman said that aides close to McConnell claim a ban on smoking in all pubs, cafés and restaurants is now likely to be introduced in Scotland within 18 months. Paul Waterson, the chief executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, said: "This will cost our trade jobs and shut down pubs, and at the end of the day this is not going to create a healthier Scotland. "This is the biggest issue they (the Executive) have ever consulted on, but it appears everybody has made up their minds already, before we have seen what the public think." An official announcement of the Executive’s intention to legislate is expected in November, with a law passed by parliament next spring. That will then leave a year for public information exercises before the ban could be introduced in spring 2006. The Conservatives said: "It’s typical of this government to want to impose bans and restrictions when in this case a voluntary code and market forces are the best way to proceed. Nobody questions the damaging effects that smoking can have, but government enforcement is not the way to proceed." Simon Clark, director of Forest, said: "If the Scottish Executive’s public consultation exercise is anything to go by, Jack McConnell’s visit will be a complete charade. "He will no doubt meet lots of people who think the ban is a good thing, but will he take the trouble to meet some of the businessmen who are suffering financially or representatives of those who think the Irish legislation has gone too far?"