Health Organisations back important bid for Smokefree Wales

Friday 18 March 2005

ASH news release:  Embargo: 00:01  Friday 18th March 2005


Health Organisations back important bid for Smokefree Wales

A Private Members Bill on smoking in workplaces and public places in Wales will get its Second Reading debate on Friday March 18th 2005. The Bill, presented by Julie Morgan MP (Labour, Cardiff North), would give the National Assembly for Wales powers to end smoking in all workplaces and public places in Wales.


The Bill has cross Party support and is backed by key public health groups including the British Medical Association (Wales/Cymru), Asthma UK, the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health. The Bill is virtually identical to one moved by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff and already passed by the House of Lords.


The National Assembly has a Committee considering the issue of smoking in public places. In 2003, the Assembly voted for such powers, on a free vote, by 39 votes to 10 with majorities in all four parties in favour. All four party leaders and all four party health spokesmen voted for the resolution. Although the Government’s White Paper on public health applied to England only, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has indicated that Wales may get specific powers to bring in comprehensive legislation, although the Government has not yet given a firm answer on this.


According to the National Public Health Service for Wales, 27% of adults in Wales smoke, with smoking rates significantly higher in disadvantaged communities. Smoking is the country’s biggest cause of preventable death. It causes at least 80% of all deaths from lung cancer, around 80% of all deaths from bronchitis and emphysema and around 17% of all deaths from heart disease. The British Medical Association Cymru Wales has stated that smoking related illness kills 7,000 people and passive smoking kills at least 50 people across Wales each year. Asthma UK Cymru states that prevalence of asthma in Wales is among the highest in the world, with 260,000 people living with the condition and the rate of hospital admissions for adults 28 per cent more than anywhere else in the UK.


Elizabeth McSloy from Swansea who suffers from asthma said:


“Secondhand smoke is the most common trigger for my asthma attacks. I’m always aware of smoke and have to avoid smoky pubs or bars in case I have an attack. Giving the National Assembly the chance to end smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public places would make a big difference to my life.”


Julie Morgan MP commented:


“My Bill would give the National Assembly the powers it needs to end smoking in public places and workplaces across Wales. This would protect the health of non-smokers and encourage many thousands of smokers to quit for good. It would be the most important public health reform in Wales for many decades. I’m proud to be bringing this Bill before the Commons and I hope that many of colleagues will be present at the debate to give it their support.”



Contact:  Julie Morgan MP  020 7219 6960 (Commons)  077408 66599

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