ASH urges government to eliminate tobacco smoke from workplaces

Friday 02 May 2003

ASH news release:  For immediate release:  2 May 2003


ASH urges Government to eliminate tobacco smoke from workplaces:

Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomes the news that the Health Minister Alan Milburn is considering introducing legislation, which would ensure all workers a smokefree workplace.


Smokefree laws in all workplaces including the hospitality sector are the ‘ideal’ according to a spokesman for Mr Milburn but unfortunately he also believes the government can still make ‘fast and substantial progress in partnership with the industry’.


Not so’, says Amanda Sandford, research manager at ASH ‘the hospitality sector have had more than enough time to comply with the Public Places Charter and most have chosen to ignore it. The only effective method of protecting the health of workers is to eliminate the tobacco smoke‘.


The support for clearing the air in work and public places is growing among Labour MPs. The recent success of Gareth Thomas’s ‘Smoking (Restaurants) Bill’, which gained the support of 115 MPs in the House of Commons, is evidence that the issue is not going to go away.


The UK has fallen well behind many other countries which are moving stridently towards smokefree workplaces, including the hospitality sector.  New Zealand, Ireland and Norway will all have legislation requiring smokefree workplaces by mid 2004. The New Zealand legislation will even cover clubs and volunteers. California, Delaware, New York and Boston and many ordinances in the US have smokefree laws for all workplaces, as do more than 45 municipalities in Canada.


Amanda Sandford, research manager at ASH is cautiously optimistic: ‘this is obviously very good news, that the government is considering banning smoking in workplaces, and we would urge them make the commitment to protect employees and patrons from serious harm.’


The scientific evidence on the health effects of exposure to secondhand smoke is overwhelming. The government has a responsibility to protect the health of all workers, it is no longer good enough to leave this important health issue in the hands of the hospitality industry.


Despite claims to the contrary, smokefree bars do not lose business [1], compliance costs are reduced[2] and enforcement is simple when there is a complete ban in place.


Notes and links:

1. – Scollo, M et al, “Review of the quality of studies on the economic effects of smoke free policies ono the hospitality industry”, Tobacco Control 2003; 12:13-20.

2. – Trish Fraser, Director and Jennifer Lamm, Legal Advisor on behalf of ASH, New Zealand. Submission on Business Compliance Costs. 11 April 2001.



Contact: Amanda Sandford 020 7739 5902    ISDN available