Tobacco industry thwarting progress on smoke-free public places

Saturday 10 May 2003

ASH news release:  Embargo: 00:01 Saturday 10th May 2003


The tobacco industry is blocking moves to make more public places smoke-free, says ASH in a new report published today [1], which documents the tobacco industry’s long-running campaign to discredit the science on passive smoking and oppose measures to ban smoking in the leisure sector.  The UK’s Public Places Charter, which advocates installing ventilation to deal with second-hand tobacco smoke, has allowed itself to be influenced by tobacco industry propaganda.

The ASH report draws together industry documents which show how the companies built up alliances with the hospitality trade to lobby for self-regulation and oppose legislation to ban smoking in public places.   The companies also paid scientists to question the science on passive smoking and to maintain a public debate about the issue.

The ASH study coincides with research released today by the TUC [2] showing that smoking bans in restaurants and pubs are good for business, contrary to the views expressed by the hospitality trade associations.

Amanda Sandford,  Research Manager of the anti-tobacco campaigning group ASH,  said:

“The industry documents reveal a cynical, shameful campaign to undermine legislation on smoke-free public places.  Whilst the cigarette makers stand to lose considerable sums of money as opportunities to light up become restricted, the same cannot be said for the hospitality trade which is more likely to attract custom.   Sadly,  the hospitality industry has been hoodwinked by Big Tobacco.  It’s time for restaurants and pubs to see the Public Places Charter for what it really is – a cover for the tobacco industry.”

The UK is now lagging way behind other countries where legislation has been implemented to make the vast majority of work and public places smoke free.  ASH is calling on the UK Government to disassociate itself from the hospitality charter and follow the lead taken by Ireland and Norway where smoke-free environments will soon become enshrined in law.

Notes and links:

[1]  The tobacco industry, ETS and the hospitality trade.  ASH, 2003. (pdf)

[2]  ‘Smoke Screen’ is published in the TUC’s Hazards magazine. See:

The Public Places Charter is a voluntary code agreed between the hospitality industry and the government to increase facilities for non-smokers. However, to comply with the Charter, pubs and restaurants can still opt for smoking to be allowed throughout the premises. The Charter is backed by the AIR  Initiative (Atmosphere Improves Results) which has received funding from the tobacco industry.