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Thursday, 18 October, 2001, 22:54 GMT 23:54 UK
Passive smoking a 'greater risk'
There are calls for pub and restaurant smoking bans
Passive smoking poses a greater risk to health than previously thought, it is claimed.

Around 300 people in the UK die each year from passive smoking, according to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

If you look at passive smoking like any other environmental hazard, then it's up there with asbestos

Clive Bates
Latest research from Ireland finds that non-smokers, who work in pubs and bars, actually take in the equivalent of more than half a cigarette a day and are subjected to excessive amounts of carbon monoxide.

The institute says the study proves that it is essential that smoking is completely banned in all workplaces - including pubs and restaurants.

However, failing an outright ban it is calling for businesses to ensure ventilation systems in rooms where people smoke give at least twelve fresh air changes every hour, so the risks involved with passive smoking are managed more effectively.

Watered down

Graham Jukes, CIEH director of professional services, is urging the government to introduce an improved code of practice under the Health and Safety Act.

"We are dismayed that the government has bowed to pressure from the hospitality industry in watering down requirements placed on employers in pubs, clubs and restaurants.

The police have enough to do without turning smokers into criminals

Simon Clark
"The CIEH believes that all places where people work should be free of environmental tobacco smoke and that includes bars and restaurant."

Clive Bates, director of the anti-smoking charity Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) said the case for measures to protect workers from smoke, and employers from litigation, was overwhelming, but the government had been consulting for almost three years.

He said: "It's about time ministers put the health of workers first, and stopped pandering to the narrow and ill-founded complaints of the pub and restaurant trade.

"If you look at passive smoking like any other environmental hazard, then it's up there with asbestos.

"Passive smoking kills through cancer, heart disease and stroke and is a serious hazard."

Call rejected

The smokers' pressure group FOREST (Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco) rejected the call for a total ban.

Simon Clark, director of FOREST, said that the argument that passive smoking endangers the health of non-smokers has never been proven.

"The Health and Safety Commission has stated that there is 'no firm scientific evidence' to link passive smoking with serious ill health and even the World Health Organization was forced to admit that the results of its own seven-year study into passive smoking were not 'statistically significant'.

Mr Clark said a total ban on smoking in pubs and restaurants would be impossible to enforce.

He said: "The police have enough to do without turning smokers into criminals."

Antony Worrall Thompson, restaurateur and patron of FOREST, said: "It strikes me as barking mad that on the one hand we want to relax the licensing laws but on the other we want to tell the smoker that he or she is not allowed to relax with a cigarette to go with their drink."

See also:

05 Sep 00 | Health
Clampdown on smoking at work
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