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Aberdeen shopping centre bans smoking OUTSIDE

An Aberdeen shopping mall has taken action to stub out smoking on its front doorstep.

The ban came into force on the pavement outside the Bon Accord and St Nicholas centre yesterday.

Bosses and health chiefs hailed it a positive step – and said it would improve the retail experience for all shoppers.

However, pro-smoking lobbyists branded the move “heavy handed” and insisted people smoking outside were not putting anyone’s health at risk.

The ban covers the Bon Accord mall’s Schoolhill entrance up to the pedestrian crossing, where new signposts have been placed to inform the public.

Security staff were also on hand yesterday, asking smokers to move away from the area.

It is the first shopping complex in the north-east to outlaw smoking outside its premises. Others said they were ., the scheme but did not e

The management team has joined forces with Aberdeen City Council for the drive, and city wardens will be closely monitoring the area as part of their regular patrols.

Although the law does not permit them to force people to stop smoking, they are able to issue £80 fines to anyone caught throwing cigarette butts – or any other litter – onto the street.

Mall manager Craig Stevenson, said secondhand smoke had been one of the biggest sources of complaints from shoppers and he was certain people would respect the new initiative.

He added: “We are committed to ensuring the experience of shoppers is as enjoyable and pleasant as possible and tackling smoking outside the mall will ensure a better quality environment.

“We are also trying to decrease the amount of littering outside the centre and would like to thank Aberdeen City Council for its support in this endeavour.”

However, one smoker said the ban had resulted in the only bin being removed from the area.

Emma McKenna, 21, a retail worker from Rosemount, said: “They have taken away the bin, which had an ashtray on it, so where are people supposed to put their litter now?

“They are just moving the problem around the corner.”

A spokesman for the centre confirmed a bin had been removed but added: “Litter levels in the courtyard would be monitored by the centre, with necessary action taken if required.”

The ban was more popular with Sheila Duffy, chief executive of anti-smoking charity ASH Scotland, who said: “We are keen to see smoke-free outdoor spaces created where these are supported by local communities, as part of putting tobacco – a lethal, addictive substance – out of sight, out of mind and out of fashion for the next generation.

“I congratulate the centre’s management team for listening to their customers and creating a smoke-free entrance.”

NHS Grampian tobacco control coordinator Derek Petrie said the centre should be congratulated for an “excellent and proactive initiative”.

He added: “We know the 2005 ban on smoking in all public places improved public health by reducing the number of heart attacks and cases of childhood asthma.

“Extending the ban into these busy thoroughfares is likely to lead to further necessary improvements – 13,000 Scots still die each year from tobacco related illness.”

However, Simon Clark, director of pro-smoking lobbyists Forest, blasted the tactic.

He said: “I think it is outrageous that they think public money should be spent enforcing this.

“People smoking outside are not putting anyone’s health at risk.

“If there are concerns about litter then the shopping centre should provide cigarette bins so people have somewhere to put their cigarette out.

“I think to actually ban it and say people will potentially be fined and penalised, seems very heavy handed.

“Bearing in mind that about 20% of the population smokes, it is not sending out a warm welcome to that section of the population who may want to stop and have a smoke after they have done their shopping.”

In the footsteps of Aberdeen hospital…

The Bon Accord and St Nicholas centre’s bid to cut out smoking outside its premises follows the blanket ban on hospital grounds which came into force earlier this year.

The policy means patients, visitors and staff are now asked to leave the site before they light up.

The measure, which applies to the entrances and grounds of health centres, hospitals and other NHS buildings in Scotland, has been adopted by all NHS boards at the request of the Scottish Government – in line with its target of creating a tobacco-free generation by 2034.

NHS Grampian had led the way for a number of years with the introduction of smoke-free sites at the Chalmers Hospital in Banff and Fraserburgh Hospital.

Yesterday Craig Stevenson, manager of the Bon Accord and St Nicholas shopping mall, said: “We have watched from a distance as NHS Grampian has introduced a smoke-free policy across hospital grounds, a policy which has been widely welcomed.

“We have taken the decision to introduce this initiative ourselves after feedback from visitors to the centre showed secondhand smoke to be one of the biggest complaints.”

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