Chief Medical Officer gives powerful new evidence on ending workplace smoking

Wednesday 28 July 2004

ASH news release:  Immediate Use, Wednesday 28th July 2004



The Government’s Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, has published powerful new evidence on the case for smokefree workplaces. His Annual Report for 2004 reviews the economic effects of smokefree legislation in other countries, and concludes that:

  • A policy of creating smokefree workplaces in the UK would bring a net benefit to society of between £2.3 and £2.7 billion a year, equivalent to treating 1.3 to 1.5 million people on hospital waiting lists
  • Contrary to all the propaganda of the tobacco industry and sections of the hospitality trade, smokefree laws are in fact good for business. New York has seen an increase in taxable sales from eating, drinking and hotel establishments since smoking was ended in workplaces, and restaurant employment has risen by 18%. Los Angeles and San Francisco have also seen tourism revenues and employment continue to grow
  • Good quality research generally supports this conclusion – studies suggesting the opposite are sometimes tobacco funded
  • “Smokefree would also have enormous public health benefits, preventing non-smokers – many of them children from inadvertently breathing in over 50 cancer-causing chemicals”.
  • Research shows that fewer young people will take up smoking in the first place if their workplaces are smokefree.

(Case summarised on page 22 of the CMO’s report, quotes from this page)


The CMO’s report also analyses the damage that smoking can do to the skin of smokers, and the CMO also points out that “young people working in bars and restaurants need to be aware that even secondhand smoke may damage their skin”.


Deborah Arnott, Director of Action on Smoking and Health commented:


“Sir Liam Donaldson’s latest report gives yet more powerful backing to the case for a smokefree workplace law in the UK. Smoking at work has been estimated to cause about 700 premature deaths a year in this country – three times the number killed by industrial accidents. And thousands more employees are made ill. Children and other members of the public are also affected every day.


The CMO has also shown conclusively that smokefree laws are not just good for health – they are good for business too. All the propaganda of the tobacco industry and its allies can no longer hide the fact that the time for a smokefree workplace law in the UK has arrived”.

Contact: Ian Willmore  020 7739 5902 (w) 07887 641344  (m) ISDN available