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EDITIONS
 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 11:22 GMT
Concern over workplace smoking
Charities want smoking in the workplace banned
Half of all British workers are concerned about smoking in the workplace, a survey suggests.

One in four says they are very concerned.

The survey, carried out by MORI as part of lung cancer awareness month, also suggests many people know little about the disease.

There are still offices and factory floors where ash trays sit on desks and smoking is allowed in communal areas

Dr Teresa Tate, Marie Curie Cancer Care
It found that two out of three people over estimate the chances of surviving lung cancer.

The survey was carried out on behalf of Cancer Research UK, Marie Curie Cancer Care, QUIT, ASH and No Smoking Day.

The charities said they would pass the findings on to the government.

Official ban

Officials said they hoped the survey would encourage ministers to take steps to ban smoking at work.

They want ministers to introduce an Approved Code of Practice, which would lead to smoking being banned in the majority of workplaces.

They have criticised the lack of action saying the move was recommended by the Health and Safety Commission in October 2000.

Marsha Williams of ASH said: "Millions of people currently have their working lives blighted because of passive smoke exposure yet government seems determined to continue with some sort of sick joke by failing to protect them."

Dr Teresa Tate, medical adviser for Marie Curie Cancer Care, said: "Many employees are suffering in silence while their health is placed at risk.

"If you work in a large corporate company with a clear no-smoking policy it is easy to forget that there are still many smaller firms where there is no such policy.

"There are still offices and factory floors where ash trays sit on desks and smoking is allowed in communal areas."

The charities have launched a Clear the Air campaign to lobby for smoking to be banned in the workplace.

The first stage of the campaign is an online survey. The results will be used to put pressure on ministers to take action.

Company help

The charities have also suggested the employers should do more to help workers to kick the habit.

There is no need to ban smoking completely

Simon Clark, FOREST
Professor Martin Jarvis, assistant director of the Cancer Research UK Health Behaviour Unit, said: "Ideally smokers should be offered help to quit - an employer could offer advice about smoking clinics, details of helplines or even nicotine replacement therapy.

Steve Crone, chief executive of Quit, added: "More employers need to think of the benefits of a smoke-free workplace.

"The Clear the Air campaign aims to give employers the incentive to get help.

"Whether you're a small business or an international company, effective tailor-made packages can be produced to suit your working environment."

Fiona Castle, widow of entertainer Roy Castle and patron of the Clear the Air campaign, said: "Roy lost a courageous battle with lung cancer in 1994. He was not a smoker, but a victim of many years of breathing other people's smoke while playing his trumpet in clubs.

"I have vowed to do all I can to help stamp out lung cancer and protect people from second-hand smoke at work."

'Free to choose'

Simon Clark, director of Freedom Organisation for the Right to Enjoy Smoking Tobacco (FOREST) accused the charities of scaremongering.

"This is a classic example of how unscrupulous scaremongering can get out of hand," he said.

"The British public is in greater danger of being scared to death than it is from passive smoking."

He added: "Companies must be free to choose a policy on smoking that best suits their business, including their workforce."

"It is quite possible to accommodate smokers without inconveniencing non-smokers. We recommend designated smoking rooms or the installation of air cleaning equipment.

"There is no need to ban smoking completely."

See also:

05 Oct 02 | Health
19 Jun 02 | Health
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