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Last Updated:  Monday, 7 April, 2003, 23:39 GMT 00:39 UK
Passive smoking 'killing workers'
Smoking
Tobacco smoke is linked to many diseases
Passive smoking at work kills three people every day, according to research.

The study found that around 900 office workers, 165 bar workers and 145 manufacturing workers die each year as a direct result of breathing in other people's tobacco smoke at work.

It also found that there are three times as many deaths a year from passive smoking at work as there are from workplace injuries.

It is estimated that three million people in the UK are exposed to second-hand smoke while at work.

More people died in 2002 from passive smoking at work in the UK than were killed by the Great London smog of 1952
James Repace
Study was carried out by James Repace, who has previously conducted research into passive smoking for the California Department of Health.

He said: "More people died in 2002 from passive smoking at work in the UK than were killed by the Great London smog of 1952.

"This study shows that previous research has seriously underestimated the number of people killed by second-hand smoke at work."

Call for action

The findings will be highlighted at a conference on the effects of workplace smoking this week organised by the anti-smoking charity ASH, the TUC, and the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH).

The conference will call on the government to implement a legally binding Code of Practice for workplace smoking, proposed over two years ago by the Health and Safety Commission.

This would clarify how existing health and safety law applies to passive smoking, effectively banning smoking from the vast majority of workplaces.

Campaigners say the UK is lagging behind other countries in this area.

Lawyers at the conference will warn that employers could face lawsuits if they fail to protect staff from passive smoke.

Amanda Sandford, a spokesperson for ASH, said: "The government's failure to tackle passive smoking in the workplace is scandalous.

"How many more lives are going to be lost before they act? One death caused by passive smoking is unacceptable but more than 1,000 a year is a disgrace and for every day¿s delay the government has deaths on its conscience."

The CIEH is the organisation which represents health inspectors who would be responsible for enforcing a code of conduct in service sector workplaces, such as offices, hotels, pubs and clubs.

Its president Brian Hanna said: "Environmental Health Officers want to help protect workers vulnerable to passive smoking, but they need the government to provide them with the right tools to do the job.

"Relying on weak voluntary arrangements will simply not have the desired effect."




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