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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 01:49 GMT
Millions exposed to smoke at work
Cigarette stub
Passive smoking is linked to disease
More than half of non-smoking employees are exposed to tobacco smoke in UK workplaces, new research suggests.

Pressure group SmokeFree London said around eight million non-smokers, many working in bars and restaurants, breathed in tobacco smoke at work.

Three million of these worked every day in premises were smoking was permitted.

The survey, of 2,000 people, found 88% of those asked - including 91% of non-smokers - want legislation to regulate workplace smoking.

The current system of self-regulation does not fully protect staff from the effects of tobacco smoke.
Judith Watt

At present there is no statutory legislation that directly regulates smoking during working hours.

But employers do have a statutory duty to maintain and provide a working environment which is safe and free from health risks.

Pressure building

Last month representatives from all 13 Royal Colleges of Medicine called for a ban on smoking in public places, saying the move could save 150,000 lives.

And Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer for England, highlighted passive smoking as one of five key public health issues in his latest annual report.

He called for "very serious consideration" to be given to introducing a law which would ensure that public places were smoke free.

Judith Watt, a spokeswoman for SmokeFree London, said legislation was needed to protect employees.

She said: "Second-hand smoke is the only proven human carcinogen that is unregulated during working hours.

"Thanks to a 1992 EU Directive, all workers are entitled to breathe smoke-free air during breaks, but are not protected while actually working.

"This is a crazy situation and one that needs tackling urgently.

"Passive smoking kills but the current system of self-regulation in workplaces does not fully protect staff from the effects of tobacco smoke.

"Real inroads into ensuring clean air for all staff working in restaurants, bars and other workplaces, can only come through government legislation."




SEE ALSO:
Doctors urge public smoking ban
25 Nov 03  |  London
Q&A: Passive smoking
25 Nov 03  |  Medical notes
Charity backs anti-smoking bill
08 Nov 03  |  Scotland
Passive smoke strategy 'has failed'
23 Sep 03  |  Scotland
EU public smoking ban considered
19 Sep 03  |  Health


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