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Saturday, 5 October, 2002, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Workers demand smoke-free offices
Working and smoking
Many workplaces already ban smoking at the desk
Employees are six to one in favour of banning smoking at work, claims a group calling on the government to bring in new laws.

A survey on behalf of pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) found that 85% of those questioned said that people should not be forced to breathe other people's secondhand smoke.

The poll, of more than 2,000 people, also suggested that almost two-thirds of workers agreed with legislation to restrict workplace smoking.

ASH accused the government of "dithering" on the issue.

Office smoking
85% of employees support smoke-free office
11% still work in offices where smoking is allowed everywhere
42% have designated smoking areas
40% have total bans

Marsha Williams, from ASH, said: "The population understands that passive smoke kills yet millions are being put at risk.

"This survey reflects the widespread view that it is simply unacceptable to force people to work in smoky conditions if it can be avoided.

"Our respondents are sanctioning the fact that government should be putting the right to a safe and healthy working environment before the ill-founded complaints of others about smoking restrictions being an attack on their freedom."

Health and safety

The government received formal advice to ban workplace smoking from the Health and Safety Commission.

It wanted an "approved code of practice" which would clarify how the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 applied to passive smoking.

Smoking outside offices
A common sight: Smoking on the doorstep
The survey revealed that more than one in nine of the workers questioned were employed in places where smoking is freely allowed.

A third of the 2,000 sampled smoked, the rest were non-smokers.

Four in ten worked somewhere with a complete smoking ban - and the same number in a location where smoking was allowed in designated areas.

Marsha Williams said: "Two years of government dithering hasn't changed people's basic understanding that they have a right to work in a smoke-free environment.

"Ministers are so out of touch with workers and so keen to please big business that they kicked the proposal into the long grass hoping it would go away."

Owen Tudor, from the TUC, added: "The health and welfare arguments for protecting people from passive smoking at work are compelling and well-established.

"Many of our union members represent the people most affected by passive smoke - those employed in pub, bar, club and restaurant sectors."

The BBC's Richard Lister
"Britains employees say they don't want to work in a smoky environment"
Should smoking in the workplace be banned?



1998 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

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26 Jul 02 | Health
12 Apr 02 | Talking Point
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