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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 July, 2004, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Smoking ban 'could save billions'
Department of Health image
Doctors hope images like this will make smokers think
A public smoking ban would benefit the economy as well as people's health, the Chief Medical Officer for England has said.

In his annual report, Professor Sir Liam Donaldson said a ban could save up to 2.7 billion.

His report also criticised the fashion industry for fuelling young people's interest in smoking.

He said highlighting the damage smoking can do to the skin could encourage more young people to quit.

The economic analysis within the CMO's report says the British economy could benefit by up to 2.7billion if such a ban went ahead.

This could include up to 680m saved by having a healthier workforce, which could produce more goods, 140m saved through fewer sick days, 430m saved because less production would be lost to cigarette breaks and 100m saved by not having to clean up behind smokers.

The CMO said evidence from abroad showed bans in pubs and restaurants have not proved to be bad for business.

He added visits to Ireland, California and New York, which have already banned smoking in public places, showed a ban could be enforced without the hospitality trade being damaged - as had been feared,

He said he found bars and restaurants "thronging with people".

And an economic analysis commissioned by the CMO found that fears of falling profits were unfounded.

The British Medical Association said the evidence knocked the economic argument against a ban "on its head".

Deborah Arnott, director of Action on Smoking and Health said: "All the propaganda of the tobacco industry and its allies can no longer hide the fact that the time for a smokefree workplace law in the UK has arrived".

But Simon Clark, director of the smokers' lobby group Forest, said: "Sir Liam is sticking his head in the sand if he genuinely believes there is no economic downturn from banning smoking in pubs and clubs."

"A recent study by two New York trade associations said that the smoking ban has cost over 2,000 jobs, equalling 28.5 million dollars in lost wages and $71.5 million dollars in lost sales."

'Thoughtless promotion'

Sir Liam added that smokers knew the habit could cause serious diseases and premature death, but many did not appreciate the damage the habit caused to their skin.

He said: "Those in their teens and early twenties tend to be image conscious and, therefore, by highlighting the harmful effects of smoking on skin I hope to encourage young people to give up smoking."

Sir Liam said the tobacco industry used brands and imagery to target the young.

But he added: "Furthermore, they are aided and abetted by a fashion industry whose models smoke in public (a phenomenon that is totally at odds with their overall aim of enhancing beauty) and media - particularly those targeted at young men - that are all too often thoughtlessly promotes smoking as a natural and attractive lifestyle choice."

Earlier treatment

The report also focuses on the number of cases of HIV cases which go undetected.

More needs to be done to ensure that people who are infected with HIV are detected at an earlier stage
Chief Medical Officer Professor Sir Liam Donaldson
It is estimate that around a third of people who are HIV positive do not know. This could be as many as 16,600 people.

Sir Liam said people often waited far too long for appointments at genitourinary medicine clinics, and even when they were seen, they were not always offered an HIV test.

He added: "Worst of all, people who are eventually diagnosed as HIV positive have had their disease for an average of six years.

"More needs to be done to ensure that people who are infected with HIV are detected at an earlier stage so they do not then infect other people, and so that their own healthcare treatment can commence earlier to reduce progression of the disease."

Nick Partridge, chief executive of the HIV charity the Terrence Higgins Trust said: "This report makes a number of important recommendations which we urge the NHS to adopt.

"In particular, we welcome the proposals to increase the numbers of people who are automatically offered HIV tests in sexual health clinics, and to increase the number of community-based HIV testing facilities.

"Both these actions would significantly help to reduce the numbers of people who have HIV but are unaware of it."

The CMO's report also highlights concerns over the use of blood transfusions, warning doctors often "over-order" blood and then do not use it.

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "Labour's record on public health has been disastrous. It is vital that Labour's politically-set hospital-based targets are abolished and public health issues get the attention they deserve."

Paul Burstow, Liberal Democrat health spokeswoman, said: "The clear message from Liam Donaldson is that passive smoking kills.

"It is very sad that ministers have done nothing about a ban on smoking in public places since the CMO called for a ban last year."

Doctors urge public smoking ban
05 Jul 04 |  Politics
Timeline: Smoking and disease
22 Jun 04 |  Health

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