Chief Medical Officer recommends banning smoking in public places: ASH calls on government to act now.



Thursday 03 July 2003

ASH news release: For immediate release: Thursday 3rd July 2003

At the launch of his annual report this morning the Chief Medical Officer called on the government to ban smoking in public places. [1] ASH believes this signifies a major step forward in the campaign to protect people from secondhand smoke.

Deborah Arnott, Director of the anti-tobacco campaigning group ASH, said:

“The government must listen to the Chief Medical Officer and move to ban smoking in public places now. The failure of the Public Places Charter to restrict smoking in pubs and restaurants shows clearly that voluntary controls on smoking simply do not work. Yet more than 80 per cent of UK citizens support smoke-free provision in public places and the proportion has been growing steadily in recent years. [2] Smokefree laws are needed to protect both the general public and employees. Ventilation and partial smoking bans are not effective in protecting people from the toxic and carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke .

Whilst more enlightened employers have taken steps to limit workers’ exposure to tobacco smoke, there are still some 3 million people in the UK who are forced to breathe in other people’s smoke day after day. Without a clear steer from government, many employers will assume that tackling tobacco smoke pollution is not a priority and will continue to put their staff at risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory disorders.”  

The CMO’s comments follow the government’s signing of the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control – the first global treaty to combat tobacco – which requires countries to implement a range of anti-tobacco measures including measures to “protect everyone from exposure to tobacco smoke”.   [3] ASH will be reminding the government that it must now honour the treaty by implementing measures to limit secondhand smoke exposure.

Arnott added:

“We are delighted that the UK government was among the first countries to sign the global treaty on tobacco control. The government must now grasp the nettle and bring forward legislation to protect workers and the general public from secondhand smoke. It is encouraging that countries as diverse as Ireland, Netherlands South Korea and Uganda have already pledged to protect people by law from tobacco smoke exposure. Britain must now follow suit if it is to avoid being relegated to the 2nd division of tobacco control nations.”

Notes and links:

[1] CMO Annual Report 2002.

[2] Smoking related behaviour and attitudes, 2002. Office for National Statistics, 3 July 2003

[3] For details of the FCTC see:   http://tobacco.who.int/page.cfm?sid=96

ASH Clear the Air Factsheet no2 – Ventilation (pdf).

Contact: Deborah Arnott 020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available

or Amanda Sandford 020 7739 5902