Although the Bingo Association was under no illusions about the impact of the smoking ban for bingo, a petition they ran in 2007 requested only a review of the tax levied on bingo, not a review of the ban – and even this, directed against the Scottish Parliament, could only plea for the Scottish Government to put the case to the Westminster Government. One can only guess why the Bingo Association did not protest the smoking ban itself – the Scottish Government had the power to change the smoking ban, but not to resolve the taxation issue. The petitions committee did not permit Mike Lowe of Premier Bingo, called as a witness to his petition, to expand on the issue of the smoking ban. All Sir Peter Fry could say was:
The third whammy is the effect of the smoking ban. We want to be in business when society accepts the smoking ban, as it has accepted the smoking ban in cinemas. Cinemas used to be full of smoke, but now people cannot smoke in them and we do not find the public marching out saying that they will never go again because they cannot smoke there. That process takes time so, for that time, my members want to stay in business.For whatever reason, the ban was seen as set in stone, and not something that the industry should challenge. Instead of this, bingo pleads with the licensing board to extend its gambling operation from one part of the property to another. You can drink and gamble inside but not smoke, you can smoke and gamble in the smoking area (can you drink?) – and Cllr Barry would have prevented the extension of gambling to the smoking area, as people should not be 'allowed' to be exposed to tobacco smoke while gambling! One player commented to the Daily Record: "It will give people the opportunity to smoke, which is what people use (sic) to do at bingo halls. But it will also separate the smokers from nonsmokers, and people go to bingo halls to socialise." The smoking ban broke up this sociability in the first place.
Cllr Barry's view demonstrates the hysteria that exists today about secondary smoke, described here in a comment on a recent story about smoking bans in mental health settings:
More on bingo in Scotland here.