Doctors, Unions, ASH tell Reid: It is time to act on secondhand smoke

Friday 11 June 2004

ASH News Release – Immediate Use: Friday 11 June 2004

An unprecedented alliance of doctors, trade unions, local Government environmental health officers and tobacco control lobbyists has come together to demand urgent Government action on secondhand smoke in the workplace. The alliance shows that secondhand smoke and its effect on public health is now a central political issue – and not just “an obsession of the learned middle class” as the Health Secretary suggested earlier this week.

Leaders of the Royal College of Physicians, the British Medical Association, the Trades Union Congress, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health and ASH have written to Secretary of State for Health John Reid, calling on him to follow the example of the Irish Health Minister, Micheál Martin, and introduce legislation to end secondhand smoke at work [1].

Ash Director Deborah Arnott said:

“There is no longer any doubt that secondhand smoke is a serious health and safety issue. The latest research suggests that exposure to secondhand smoke at work is killing more people than all industrial injuries and accidents.

A new law to protect employees and the public is long overdue. The MORI poll published today by ASH [2] shows that this would be a popular measure across all social classes, and with smokers and non-smokers alike. This is not some arcane obsession of the learned middle class. The general public want the Government to take action now, and it is time for Dr Reid and the Government to listen to the people”.  

Notes and links:

[1] The full text of the letter can be read here (pdf)

[2] The poll was conducted by MORI and commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health. More than four thousand people were interviewed between 15th April and 4th May. Four out of five (80%) of those polled support a law to ensure that all enclosed workplaces must be smokefree.  The poll reveals that support for a smokefree workplace law is strong across all social classes:

·         86% of social class AB support the proposal

·         83% of social class C1 support the proposal

·         79% of social class C2 support the proposal

·         72% of social class DE support the proposal.

See ASH press release: Overwhelming backing for workplace smoking law




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