Health lobby calls on UK Government to follow Scottish smokefree lead

Thursday 11 November 2004

ASH news release:  immediate release: Thursday 11th November 2004


 Health lobby calls on UK Government to follow Scottish smokefree lead


In a letter in today’s Financial Times,  doctors, health charities and local government environmental health lobbyists call on the Government to act to ensure all UK workers will have the same protection as those in Scotland from tobacco smoke pollution.


Dear Sir,

We are delighted that the Scottish Executive has shown political resolution and leadership in announcing new legislation to make Scottish workplaces smokefree. It is now time for the UK Government to follow that example.


The evidence that passive smoking is a serious workplace health and safety risk is now overwhelming. The latest report of the Government’s Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health confirms that exposure to other people’s smoke increases non-smokers’ risk of ischaemic heart disease and lung cancer, in both cases by about a quarter. Exposure to secondhand smoke at work is also the second most common trigger of asthma attacks.


Employers have a duty to protect employees from harm, and employees have a right not to be exposed to avoidable health and safety risks. However government surveys show that 10.7 million people still work in places where smoking is permitted on the premises, and 2.2 million in places where smoking is allowed throughout.


This is a particular problem for people working in the hospitality industry, and especially in bars and casinos, where smoke exposure is particularly high. Deaths in the pub trade alone from tobacco smoke pollution are estimated at one a week, an unacceptable cost of working in this industry.

Most smokers want to quit smoking and there is clear evidence that smokefree policies help them to do so.  The Irish experience clearly shows that smokefree legislation is popular and effective, but needs to be simple and have universal application. Allowing local Councils to apply different rules in different areas, for example, would simply confuse the public and add substantially to the regulatory costs on business. Smoking in the workplace is dangerous and should no longer be permitted. It is time for UK ministers to show the same determination as their Scottish colleagues.
Yours faithfully


Professor Carol Black, President, Royal College of Physicians; Dr Sam Everington, Deputy Chairman, British Medical Association; Professor David Haslam, Chairman of Council, Royal College of GPs; Peter Hollins, Director General, British Heart Foundation; Professor Alex Markham, Chief Executive, Cancer Research UK; Sir Alexander Macara, Chairman, National Heart Forum;

Deborah Arnott, Director, Action on Smoking and Health; Graham Jukes, Chief Executive, Chartered Institute of Environmental Health; Donna Covey, Chief Executive, Asthma UK; Arlene Spiers, Chief Executive, Ulster Cancer Foundation; Dr Edmund Neville, Chairman, British Thoracic Society.




Contact: Ian Willmore at ASH on  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available or

Franca Tranza at the BMA on 020 7383 6188 (w)



If you wish to be removed from this mailing list, please Click Here or

email with “Unsubscribe: ASH Press Release” in the subject line.