Survey reveals over 3 million non-smokers exposed to cigarette smoke at work – new guide aimed at tackling the problem

Thursday 08 April 1999

ASH/ Press releases/


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Press release 

31st March 1999
Embargo 00:01hrs Thursday 8 April GMT

Action on Smoking
and Health

Survey reveals over 3 million non-smokers expose to cigarette smoke at work – new guide aimed attackling the problem

Over three million (3.4m) non-smokers have to work in places where they are frequentlyor continuously exposed to other people’s cigarette smoke, according to survey resultspublished by ASH, the National Asthma Campaign, and the TUC today (Thursday).

In the MORI survey, 21% of non-smokers questioned came into contact with tobacco smokeeither continuously or frequently, whilst 18% complained that they did so occasionally.The research suggests that although some employers have taken action to tackle smoking,there are still many workplaces where unrestricted smoking is the norm.

In an attempt to encourage healthier workplaces, today also sees the publication of <ahref=”http:”” papers=”” workplace.html”=””>Smokingat work: the butt stops here apractical report from the health-conscious trio on how to banish smoking from theworkplace without victimising workers who smoke. Designed to give practical help to thosewho want a smoking policy, it sets out the health risks of passive smoking, and warns thatthe legal position is unclear when it comes to smoking at work.

Smoking at work: the butt stops here says that although there are many elementsto a successful smoking policy, the bottom line is that workers should expect to work insurroundings free from other people’s tobacco smoke. Even in workplaces where the employersees smoking as crucial to the success of the business – in pubs, restaurants and hotelsfor example – there are a variety of measures which can be introduced to protect staff.

“Many people suffer because of smoking at work. Some because they can’t, somebecause others do. At the moment the law is unclear and this confusing situation helpsno-one. Unions and employers must work in partnership to agree a smoking policy in everyworkplace which protects the health and welfare of smokers and non-smokers alike”,said TUC General Secretary, John Monks.

“Most people would like to work in a smoke free environment, but for some,especially those with asthma, it is more than a welfare issue. Their choice is eithersmoke free workplaces or ill health, and in some extreme cases it can even meanunemployment,” explained National Asthma Campaign Chief Executive Anne Bradley.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH, said: “It really is a disgrace that threemillion people still work in smoky surroundings when we know passive smoking can causeeverything from a sore throat to heart disease and lung cancer. Most employers want to dosomething about it, or have done so already, but you just can’t declare that smoking isbanned and call it a smoking policy. What we’ve done is put together a practical manual onhow to do it, the pros and cons of the various options and the pitfalls to avoid.”

In Smoking at work: the butt stops here, the three organisations call upon theHealth and Safety Commission to clarify the law on health, safety and welfare at work withan Approved Code of Practice so that employers understand their legal obligations andemployees know their rights.

Smoking in the workplace: the butt stops here sets out:

  • the harmful effects of smoking on workers’ health and welfare;
  • the current state of the law on smoking at work, with examples of recent compensation and unfair dismissal cases;
  • how to establish a workplace smoking policy.

Smoking in the workplace: the buttstops here is available from ASH for a donation or on the <ahref=”http:”” papers=”” workplace.html”=””>ASHinternet site.

ASH’s <ahref=”http:”” work.html”=””>workplaceweb resources contain the new guide,and other documents and links aimed to help anyone introducing a workplace smoking policy.


Notes to editors

  1. A press conference at which Clive Bates, Anne Bradley, and the TUC’ssenior health and safety officer Owen Tudor will talk about the issues involved in Smokingin the workplace: the butt stops here takes place at Congress House, GreatRussell Street, London WC1, on Thursday 8 April at 10.30am. Please call Liz Chinchen atthe TUC if you plan to attend.
  2. Copies of the report are available on request or at <ahref=”http:”” papers=”” workplace.html”=””>
  3. Between 5-8 March 1999, MORI asked 1,029 people in full or part time work how often- frequently, occasionally, rarely or never – they came into contact with tobacco smoke attheir place of work.
  4. ASH is an organisation that provides information about all aspects of tobaccoand works to advance policies and measures that will help to prevent addiction, diseaseand unnecessary premature death caused by smoking.

The National Asthma Campaign is the independent UK charity working to conquerasthma, in partnership with people with asthma and all who share their concern, through acombination of research, education and support.

The TUC is the national centre for trade unions in Great Britain. It providestraining for safety reps, as well as general advice and information on asthma, otherworkplace heatlh and safety issues and all other matters connected with the world of work.





Contact Clive Bates, ASH Director (020) 7739 5902
Liz Chinchen, TUC 0171 467 1248/01399 744115
Marsha Williams, National Asthma Campaign 0171 288 1869/0171 354 3593

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