ASH responds to MPs’ call for reintroduction of smoking in pubs and clubs

Wednesday 07 July 2010

Responding to a call by a group of MPs for the re-introduction of smoking in pubs, ASH said that there was little public support for such a measure. In fact, ASH research suggests the opposite to be true – ie that smokers would welcome an extension of the smoking ban rather than a relaxation of the law. [1]

ASH highlighted four reasons why returning to the bad old days of smoky pubs would be a disastrous move:

 Recent research from the University of Bath shows how smokefree legislation has accelerated the reduction in heart attacks (a drop of 2.5% on top of the long term trend) and saved the NHS in England more than £8 million in the first year. [2]

 With every passing year the smokefree law gets more and more popular and now commands the support of 80% of English adults with support growing fastest among smokers. [1]

 In response to claims that the law has been bad for the licensed trade, government figures show the number of premises licensed for “on sales” actually increased by 5% the year England and Wales went smokefree. [3]

 This is a law that has worked well and if anything we should be looking at ways to strengthen it.
Martin Dockrell, ASH’s Director of Policy and Research commented:

“All the evidence points to high and growing support for the smokefree law, including among smokers. There just isn’t the evidence to support a return to the bad old days of smoky pubs and clubs. Instead of rolling back a law that is working well, we would urge the Government to focus on a comprehensive tobacco control strategy that will continue to drive down smoking rates and improve public health.”

Notes and links:
[1] ASH commissioned YouGov to conduct a series of surveys to measure the public’s views on the smokefree law since 2007. Wave 1: Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th and 22nd April 2007. Total sample size was 1562 adults. Wave 2: Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd and 28th August 2007. Total sample size was 1532 adults. Wave 3: Fieldwork was undertaken between 20th and 25th February 2008. Total sample size was 1056 adults. Wave 4: Fieldwork was undertaken between 25th and 30nd March 2009. Total sample size was 10895 adults. Wave 5: Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th and 22nd March 2010. Total sample size was 10276 adults.. The surveys were carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all England adults (aged 18+).
[2] Sims M, Maxwell R, Bauld L & Gilmore A. The short-term impact of smokefree legislation in England: a retrospective analysis on hospital admissions for myocardial infarction. BMJ 2010;340:c2161
[3] DCMS Statistical Bulletin, Alcohol, Entertainment and Late Night Refreshment Licensing, England and Wales, April 2007 – March 2008.