Smoking at work code will help 3 million non-smokers fight passive smoking

Thursday 29 July 1999

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Press releaseThursday 29th July 1999
Embargo 11:00 BST
Action on Smoking and Health

Smoking at work code will help 3 million non-smokersfight passive smoking

New legal guidance from the Health and SafetyExecutive on passive smoking will give long overdue legal protection to over three millionnon-smokers who still work in smoky conditions [1] — if agreed. The new ‘Approved Code ofPractice’ would direct the power of the Health and Safety at Work Act against passivesmoking at work.

Clive Bates, Director of ASH said: “Thiswill make smoking bans the norm in most work places like offices or factories. Employershave to do what is reasonable and practical to reduce employees’ exposure to tobaccosmoke. Given that so many places have already done it, it would be difficult to argue thata smoking ban was unreasonable or impractical.”

“Even in places like pubs or restaurants,where there won’t necessarily be a complete ban, the employer will no longer have the ‘donothing and ignore it’ option. There is a great deal a landlord or restaurant owner can doshort of a total ban, like segregating smoking areas, banning smoking at the bar, andbeefing up the ventilation.”

“This isn’t new legislation, it is a newinterpretation of the existing legislation.”

“Two million adults in the UK have asthma– for them passive smoking can have an acute and traumatic impact and they should not haveto face this risk at work or be barred from certain kinds of job. We take hundreds ofcalls from people whose life is blighted by other people’s smoking where they work — fortheir sake we hope this code is agreed and implemented as soon as possible. ”

“Tobacco industry groups claim that thisinfringes smokers’ rights, but non-smokers have a right to clean air and where there is aconflict, they should come first. It is the smokers that are causing the problem byfilling the air with smoke.”

ASH has prepared a Q&A (7 pages) on theApproved Code of Practice and this is also available on the ASH web site at <ahref=”http:”” work.html”=””>

[1] Based on a survey of smoking conditions byMORI Research, March 1999.

Consultation documents on passive smoking at work available from – are the Health and Safety Commission consultation documents onnew guidance on how the Health and safety at Work Act should apply topassive smoking at work. The consultation closes on 29th October.

Contact Clive Bates, Director (020) 7739 5902

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