Tobacco lobby to public: keep on choking

Monday 27 October 2003

ASH news release:  Immediate –  Monday 27th October 2003
ASH has condemned today’s survey on public attitudes to secondhand smoke, published by the Tobacco Manufacturers Association, as ”the usual self-serving tobacco lobby propaganda” . [1]

The survey suggested that only a minority of the public favoured bans on smoking in pubs, restaurants and other public places. The survey contradicts other independent research evidence, for example a MORI poll earlier this year found that 78% of the public believed that all employees should have a right to work in a smoke-free environment (published 13th April 2003).

Although the tobacco lobby still refuses to accept the scientific evidence, secondhand smoke kills at least 1,000 people in the UK every year.  Workers in smoky bars, restaurants and other entertainment venues are particularly at risk.

Commenting, ASH Public Affairs Manager Ian Willmore said:

“This is a typical self-serving piece of tobacco industry propaganda. Secondhand smoke is a killer. At least three people die in the UK every day from its effects. Yet the tobacco lobby still refuses to admit the problem even exists. That’s hardly surprising when you consider that Imperial Tobacco – a key member of the TMA – is fighting the McTear case in Scotland on the grounds that primary smoking does not cause lung cancer. Not a word these people say can be believed and they have no public reputation left to lose.

More and more people are demanding smoke-free public places, and more and more employers are realising that it is in their interests to provide them. The tobacco lobby knows that this is the Achilles heel of the industry – that’s why it will spend any amount of money to try and prevent action.”



[1]  Briefing: Issue 4, TMA, 11 July 2003

Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals in the form of particles and gases. Many potentially toxic gases are present in higher concentrations in sidestream smoke than in mainstream smoke. The particulate phase includes tar (itself composed of many chemicals), nicotine, benzene and benzo(a)pyrene. The gas phase includes carbon monoxide, ammonia, dimethylnitrosamine, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and acrolein.  Some of these have marked irritant properties and some 60 are known or suspected carcinogens (cancer causing substances). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA has classified environmental tobacco smoke as a class A (known human) carcinogen along with asbestos, arsenic, benzene and radon gas.



Deborah Arnott  020 7739 5902 (w) 079 7693 5987 (m) ISDN available

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