Page last updated at 06:19 GMT, Tuesday, 16 November 2004

'Passive smoking cost me dearly'

By Michelle Roberts
BBC News health reporter

Image of a smoky bar
Debate over a total ban continues

Michael Dunn believes working as a croupier in a smoky casino for 14 years caused his asthma.

Last year he was given more than 50,000 compensation in an out of court settlement with his ex-employer Napoleon's Casino of Leicester Square.

He says smoking in any public place should be banned to prevent others suffering in a similar way.

But pro-smoking groups evidence is lacking to show passive smoking causes damage and that a choice of designated smoking areas would be a fairer solution.

Mr Dunn, now 60, has never smoked and was a keen athlete, competing in many marathons.

Image of Mr Dunn
My wife used to think I had been by a bonfire. I stank of smoke.
Michael Dunn

In 1998 he was diagnosed with asthma after he was admitted to hospital for a severe attack of breathlessness.

Mr Dunn says he is convinced his health problems were caused by other people's cigarette smoke.

"I used to walk in and see clouds of smoke hovering over the tables.

"The air conditioning was totally inadequate so the room filled up with smoke.

"They gave away free cigarettes to encourage people to stay and bet more.

"I would be in that atmosphere for seven hours a day and of course I could not leave the casino for security reasons.

Total ban?

"When I used to come home my wife used to think I had been by a bonfire. I stank of smoke."

He said that the casino had introduced a designated smoking area for staff during the last two years that he had worked there, but said that had made little difference because the main room where they all worked was still smoky.

"Smoking in public places should be banned. It's very harmful to everyone's health.

"My consultant said working in that sort of environment will take 10 years off your life. It's got to be banned."

Dr Maureen Baker of the Royal College of GPs also believes a total ban is needed.

She said: "Pub and restaurants workers along with non-smoking customers need legislation to protect them from the dangers of passive smoking."

Mr Dunn's ex-employer Napoleon Casino declined to comment.

Simon Clark of pro-smoking group Forest said: "There is no justification for a ban on smoking in all public places.

"The public is in favour of more restrictions on smoking, but wants choice not a total ban, especially in pubs.

"Smoke-free is already the norm in most public places but in pubs, clubs and bars, which are private businesses, people want a choice of smoking and non-smoking areas with improved ventilation."

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