30 minutes of passive serious acute impact on blood flow – government dithers over policy – London Assembly to investigate

Tuesday 24 July 2001

Action on Smoking and Health

Embargo: 15:00 US Central Time [21:00 BST] Tuesday 24 July 2001


Government dithers while passive smoking clogs healthy hearts – world expert visits London Assembly


Following a new study [1] showing that 30 minutes of passive smoking exposure can have a substantial impact on the heart arteries of non-smokers, ASH stepped up pressure on the Government to stop blocking the formal code of practice on passive smoking in the workplace, promised in its 1998 tobacco White Paper. Clive Bates, Director of ASH said:


“It is as if the blood vessels in the heart react suddenly to small doses of tobacco smoke -almost like an allergic reaction or spasm. This can have the same impact on blood flow as active smoking..  Passive smoking has a serious impact on the heart and is a real killer, not just a nuisance or irritation.   People claim they have a right to smoke, but not if it means non-smokers have to suffer damage to their circulation.


“If something as hazardous as cigarette smoke was leaking from a pipe in a factory,inspectors would close it down, yet there are still 3 million non-smokers in Britain that are frequently or continuously exposed to tobacco smoke at work.

ASH drew particular attention to the approach of DTI’s Small Business Service, whose director David Irwin, has been claiming it has blocked the Approved Code of Practice on passive smoking at work [3].  This Code shows how existing legislation should apply to passive smoking and is part of the government’s smoking White Paper.ASH pointed out that the legislation applies whether or not there is guidance on how to comply with it.


“The Small Business Service has been bragging about what it sees as a victory in holding up measures on passive smoking at work, but all it is doing is keeping small businesses in the dark, exposing them to litigation risks while denying basic health and welfare protections to workers.  This is Labour’s Sick Business Service, complete with mill-owner mentality and small-minded disregard for health – all so that it can make a hollow and misguided claim that it has cut some red tape.”


ASH also welcomed Professor Stanton Glantz of the University of California at San Francisco to London. Stan Glantz is a professor of cardiology, author of numerous studies of passive smoking, and he has written the JAMA editorial about the new study.  He is also the highest profile tobacco campaigner in the world!  As guest of Smoke Free London [4], Professor Glantz will be presenting to the London Assembly [4], which is inquiring into smoking in public places.  Professor Glantz said:


“The smoke-free policy in California has been an outstanding success – people like to breathe clean,non-toxic air. It’s popular with the customers of restaurants and bars, and businesses are doing very well, except the tobacco companies.  In terms of smoke-free places, Britain is where we were in California 15 years ago, but if there is commitment to health and well-being, it is a journey well worth making.”


[1] Otsuka R.Watanabe H. New evidence of harmful effects of second-hand smoke on the hearts of non-smokers JAMA. 2001; 286:436-441 – see JAMA press release

[2] See ASH information on the Approved Code of Practice on passive smoking at work

[3] See the SBS annual report

[4] Smoke Free London – an NHS alliance tackling smoking in London: Press Release

[5] London Assembly: see Press Release.

ASH Contact: Clive Bates 020 7739 5902 (office) 077 68791237 (mobile)

For queries about the London Assembly and to contact Stan Glantz contact Judith Watt at Smoke Free London 020 7725 5499 (office) or 078 6754 3674 (mobile)