Too many councils failing smoking challenge.

Tuesday 05 July 2005

Media Release from ASH – Embargo: 09.30hrs – Tuesday 5th July 2005

The Smokefree Action coalition, consisting of many of Britain’s leading medical and public health organisations [1], today releases a major survey of smoking policies for every Council in England and Wales. Full details of the survey, and a summary of polices for each Council, can be found from 9.30am tomorrow (Tuesday) here as an excel spreadsheet.

The research shows that while some Councils (e.g. Liverpool, Manchester, Poole and Sheffield) are leading the way on cutting smoking rates in their areas and working for smokefree towns and cities, most are still doing little more than banning smoking in their own offices. Only a quarter of all Councils are actively working with NHS Primary Care Trusts and others to promote smokefree public places.


  • Is the main cause of preventable death in the United Kingdom. Smoking kills more than 100,000 people every year.
  • Inhaling other people’s smoke in the workplace causes an estimated 600 premature deaths a year, three times the number killed in industrial injuries and accidents.
  • Smoking is the main contributor to differences in life expectancy between social classes.
  • Smoking prevalence rates are highest in the poorest wards across England and Wales.
  • Ending smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public places could cut smoking prevalence from about one in four of the adult population to close to one in five – making it by far the most effective single policy to reduce smoking rates.

[see – the case for a smokefree law – for full information]

Smokefree Action says that the survey shows the urgent need for the Government to bring in comprehensive legislation ending smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public places, as well as for Councils to work more actively with their local NHS and other partners to tackle smoking rates in their areas.

The results of the survey show:

  London Boroughs Metropolitan Boroughs Unitary Authorities County Councils District/Borough Councils Welsh Borough Councils Totals
Total Number  














Outreach Policy on Smoking  





















Under Discussion  














9 councils failed to respond.

“Outreach Policy” means that the Council is working actively to encourage smokefree workplaces and public places, and taking other action with NHS and local partners to cut local smoking rates.

At the end of July, ASH will also be publishing the first interactive web map of smoking rates in every ward in England and Wales, mapped against the deprivation index for each ward. The results will show just how closely high smoking rates and deprivation are related.

Deborah Arnott, Director of Action on Smoking and Health commented:

“Some Councils have led the way to encourage smokefree workplaces and public places in their area, and to help cut the terrible toll of death and disease caused by smoking. Councils such as Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Poole – Labour, Liberal Democrat and Conservative controlled – have a fine record of work in this area.

But too many Councils are still doing little or nothing to promote smoke freedom. Too many are not working effectively with their local NHS Primary Care Trusts and others to cut smoking prevalence rates. Too many still do not realize the impact that smoking has on life expectancy and health inequalities in their areas.

Our survey shows the urgent need for the Westminster Parliament to follow the Irish and Scottish example, and pass legislation ending smoking in all workplaces in England and Northern Ireland, while allowing the National Assembly the powers it is seeking to do the same in Wales. No bodge or halfway house will do the job. Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt must find the nerve of her Irish and Scottish counterparts and act now.”

– ENDS –

[1] Smokefree Action is launched today by a coalition of groups including ASH, Asthma UK, the British Heart Foundation, the British Medical Association, Cancer Research UK, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, the National Heart Forum and the Royal College of Physicians. See Smokefree Action is campaigning for a comprehensive smokefree law covering all workplaces and enclosed public places across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, of the kind now in place in Ireland and last week approved by the Scottish Parliament.