Health and Safety Commission backs comprehensive smokefree law.

Monday 01 August 2005

ASH news release: For Immediate Use, Monday 1st August 2005


Health and Safety Commission Backs Comprehensive Smoking Law

Powerful backing has been given by the Health and Safety Commission to the campaign for a law to end smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public places, it emerged today.


The Department of Health is now consulting on Government proposals to end smoking in all enclosed public places, with the exception of pubs that do not serve prepared food and membership clubs. Bill Callaghan, Chair of the Health and Safety Commission, has now written to Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt calling for these exemptions to be dropped from the final Health Improvement and Protection Bill, due to come before Parliament in November.


The move will increase pressure on the Government to opt for comprehensive smokefree legislation: the proposed exemptions have already been criticised by both the health lobby and the hospitality trade, which is worried that they would create unfair competition inside the pub sector and between pubs and clubs.


A paper approved by the HSC at its meeting on 27th July 2005 stated that:


“The arguments for a wider ban in all licensed premised are these:

  • the science: SCOTH [the Government’s Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health] is clear that second hand smoke is harmful. The Government’s proposals appear to be at odds with equality in public health.
  • better regulation: for regulation to be effective it must be capable of ready application by those to whom it is addressed. Differing restrictions in the UK will lead to confusion and lessen benefits. A uniform approach to smoking will be easier for employers, employees and the public to understand and comply with…
  • effective enforcement: a simpler regime, with fewer and less complex exemptions, will aid enforcement by the Local Authorities.”


The letter to the Health Secretary adds:


“We are concerned that the proposals run the risk of creating health inequality and this we consider would be undesirable.”


It has been estimated that smoking in workplaces currently causes about 600 premature deaths a year across the UK workforce, and about one death per week among workers in the hospitality trades [1]. SCOTH identified bar staff as an occupational group at particular risk from secondhand smoke [2].


Deborah Arnott, Director of the health campaigning charity ASH, said:


“We are delighted that the Health and Safety Commission has backed the case for an end to smoking in all workplaces. It would be absurd and wrong for the Government to recognise the health damage caused by secondhand smoke and then produce a law which fails to protect bar staff- the group of workers at most risk.


The HSC’s call will surely make the pressure for the Government to opt for comprehensive legislation overwhelming. The proposed exemptions have been slammed by health campaigners and the hospitality trades. Now the organisation responsible for enforcing health and safety law has joined the criticism. We are increasingly optimistic that the Government will now act to end smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public places. It’s about health and it’s about time. ”



Contact: Ian Willmore   020 7739 5902 (w)   07887 641344 (m)


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1.<spanstyle=’mso-tab-count:1′>         “Estimate of Deaths AmongAdults in the United Kingdom Attributable to Passive Smoking”<spanstyle=’mso-bidi-font-size:10.0pt;line-height:110%;mso-bidi-font-family:arial’>:BMJ/2004/227587, by Konrad JamrozikMBBS DPhil FAFPHM MFPH ILTM, Professor of Evidence-Based Health Care,University of Queensland.



The Smokefree Action coalition is backed byASH, Asthma UK, the British Heart Foundation, the British Medical Association,Cancer Research UK, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health,<spanstyle=’mso-spacerun:yes’>  the National Heart Forum and the RoyalCollege of Physicians.

<spanstyle=’font-size:12.0pt;line-height:110%;mso-bidi-font-family:arial’>See <ahref=”http:”” “=””>