Lancet Article on Smoking Ban: Comment

Friday 05 December 2003

ASH News Release: Immediate Release: Friday 5th December 2003


Lancet Article on Smoking Ban: Comment

ASH does not support the Lancet article’s call for an outright smoking ban.


If we could go back in time four hundred years, it would be better for the world if tobacco had never been discovered. Then we would never have seen the tens of millions of deaths, the suffering and the disease that smoking has brought to families across the world. This year about 120,000 people will die in the UK from smoking-related illness. The “freedom” to smoke has been bought at a terrible price.


But although we can understand the frustrations of doctors who have to deal every day with the consequences of smoking, we can’t simply ban it now. The story of Prohibition (of alcohol in the United States in the 1920s) shows why it’s a bad idea. We want to persuade and help people to stop smoking, not to force them.


Accepting people’s freedom to make bad choices – to smoke – does not mean accepting that anyone has a right to smoke at times and in places that hurt others. So a law against smoking in the workplace is both necessary and overdue. And while we don’t believe tobacco should be banned, it should certainly be regulated to reduce the harm it causes. It doesn’t make sense that nicotine replacement therapies, which provide nicotine in a way that is much less harmful than smoking, are more highly regulated than tobacco. ASH wants a Tobacco Regulatory Authority for this reason.


Commenting, ASH Director Deborah Arnott said:


“A legal ban on smoking is neither possible nor desirable. We want to help and encourage people not to smoke, not to force them. But we do need more Government action to cut the terrible death toll that smoking still causes in this country, year after year. We need to stop people smoking in front of children and in the workplace. And we need to regulate tobacco and nicotine products, so that smokers have safer and cheap alternatives to giving their money and their lives to the tobacco companies.” 



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Deborah Arnott

079 7693 5987 (m)

020 7739 5902 (w) or


Ian Willmore

020 7739 5902 (w)

078 8764 1344 (m)

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