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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
Nurses back ban on public smoking
Smokey bar
Pressure is growing for a ban
Nurses have become the latest group to call for a ban on smoking in public.

The Royal College of Nursing annual conference in Harrogate overwhelmingly backed a motion calling for a ban on Thursday.

The British Medical Association and the Chief Medical Officer have also urged the government to outlaw smoking in pubs, restuarants and workplaces.

Research suggests passive smoking kills many people each year, although pro-smoking groups dispute this.

I don't condone smoking - I don't like what it does to people.
Sue Jones
Nearly nine out of 10 delegates at the RCN conference voted in favour of a ban.

Proposing the motion, Desmond McCarron, a nurse from Colchester General Hospital, Essex, said there was "convincing scientific evidence" on the dangers of second-hand smoke.

He said: "If you ordered a meal or a drink, how would you feel if you were told by the waiter that added to the food would be a potent cocktail of over 4,000 chemicals, including 50 substances known to cause cancer?

"You may not ask for these poisons but that is what you get from the second-hand smoke, which is ever-present in most bars and restaurants.

Mr McCarron said a voluntary code introduced in 1991 to provide smoke-free areas in public areas had had a "minimal effect" on the hospitality industry.

And he disputed the idea that strong ventilation systems effectively minimised the threat to health.

No right to kill

RCN member Sue Jones said her father had given up smoking only to find himself miserable. Once he started smoking again he lived happily until he was 94.

But she added: "I don't condone smoking, I don't like what it does to people."

Another RCN member Geoff Earl said: "If you want to smoke you can, but you don't have the right to kill other people."

Amanda Sandford, of campaigners Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), said: "We would endorse exactly what nurses are calling for.

"Nurses are well-placed to see first-hand the effects of passive smoking on people, particularly on coronary patients.

"It so vitally important to have legislation to protect the health of everyone."

However, the smokers' rights group Forest argues that it has never been conclusively proven that exposure to other people's tobacco smoke damages health.

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