Nurses lose case but victory on key principle

Thursday 21 May 1998

ASH/ Press releases/


102 Clifton Street,London EC2A 4HW Tel: (020) 7739 5902 Fax: (020) 7613 0531

Press release21 May 1998 ASH
Action on Smoking
and Health


Nurse loses case, victory on key principle

Although Sylvia Sparrow lost her case against former employers, thejudgement has confirmed that, with respect to passive smoking, employers have a clear dutyto take all reasonably practicable steps to protect their employees from the hazards ofpassive smoking. In the view of the judge, the nursing home did this. But ASH warned thatwhat was regarded as all reasonably practicable steps in a residential home, cannot beassumed to be adequate in an ordinary office or other work place and further cases aresure to follow. The judge did not decide on the link between passive smoking and Mrs.Sparrow’s asthma.

“This case appears to establish the duty on employers that we have been arguing.Our advice to employers remains unchanged: the “do nothing” option is not arunner – you must take all reasonable steps to protect your staff from tobacco smoke. Youare taking legal risks if you allow your staff to be exposed to the hazards caused bytobacco smoke where they work. The law has not changed, nor have the obligations ofemployers – this judgement confirms a key principle” said Clive Bates, Director ofASH.

“The door is now wide open for new cases, particularly in the light of theoverwhelming evidence that now exists on passive smoking. The courts will be able to testwhether employers have done everything reasonable to protect their staff,” he added.




Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902
Pauline Doyle, Press Officer (020) 7739 5902 or 0171 249 2363 (hm)

RegisteredCharity No 262067
Action on Smoking and Health is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England No998971. Registered address as above