Published: 10/03/2005, Volume II5, No. 5946 Page 8

The Scottish Executive is pressing ahead with legislation to ban smoking in public places despite the launch of a new political party specifically opposed to the move.

The Publican Party, which was launched last week, aims to put forward a candidate to fight a Labourheld seat in the forthcoming general election.

Licensees have been among the most vociferous critics of the proposed ban which, unlike plans in England, will cover all pubs, not just those that serve food.

The Publican Party has been set up by Kit Fraser and Don Lawson, publicans in Inverness, who said others in the trade had pledged their support.

The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill is currently being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament's health and community care committee.

Stage one is expected to be completed at the end of April, with a view to introducing the ban in a year's time.

A Scottish Executive spokesman said he could not comment specifically on the formation of a political party. But he added: 'This is the most important piece of public health legislation in a generation and we expect the bill to progress through parliament as planned.' The Scottish Executive opted to introduce a comprehensive ban on smoking in enclosed public places following an extensive public consultation which garnered a record response.