Letter Campaign to Support Bid for Smokefree Wales



Monday 21 February 2005

ASH news release: Embargo: Monday 21st February 2005
Tobacco control pressure group ASH (Action on Smoking and Health) is to launch an online letter campaign urging MPs to support the Smoking in Public Places (Wales) Bill, which gets its Second Reading on March 18th.

The letter asks people to write to their MPs, encouraging them to turn up at the Houses of Parliament and help the Bill through to the committee stage.

The Private Member’s Bill, presented by Julie Morgan MP (Labour, Cardiff North) on January 12th, would enable the National Assembly for Wales to set its own restrictions on the smoking in public places in Wales.

The Assembly has already voted to introduce legislation for smoke free public places in Wales and the Welsh Secretary Peter Hain has indicated that Wales may get specific powers to bring in a comprehensive ban, but the Government has not yet given a firm answer on this. The Bill 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.

BMA Cymru has stated that smoking related illness kills 7,000 people and passive smoking kills at least 50 people each year. Asthma UK Cymru estimates that there are 260,000 people with asthma living in Wales and 77 died from asthma in 2002, while 82% of people with asthma say that breathing second-hand smoke makes their symptoms worse. The percentage of adults who smoke in Wales is 27%, higher than the UK national average of 26%.

The government’s white paper on public health supports legislation to restrict smoking in most places in England and Wales by 2008 but also proposes exemptions for private clubs pubs that do not serve prepared food.

Dr Tony Calland, Chairman of BMA Welsh Council said:

“The people of Wales should be allowed to decide whether smoking should be banned in public places in Wales. Welsh MPs should ensure that the power to implement such a ban is devolved to the National Assembly for Wales as soon as possible.”

Naomi King, Director of Action on Smoking and Health Wales commented:

“The National Assembly has already voted for a ban on smoking in public places and should be given the chance to implement a more comprehensive ban than is being proposed in England. The various other initiatives that are in place to help reduce smoking in Wales need to be reinforced by a ban on smoking in order to make them more effective.”

 

Contact:

 

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