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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 September 2005, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
Nurses push for full smoking ban
Cigarette ash
Nurses say they see the devastating effects of smoking
Nurses are leading the way in piling the pressure on ministers to introduce a full smoking ban, saying they see the devastating effects of the habit.

The Royal College of Nursing has demanded tougher action than has been put forward - the current plans exempt pubs which do not serve food.

Ahead of a consultation process ending on Monday, nurses said 30 people a day die from second-hand smoking.

The government said a bill later this year would set out the way forward.

November's Public Health White Paper proposed a ban in public places by 2008 but exempted pubs which do not serve food and private members' clubs.

The issue of whether a pub serves food or not is irrelevant.
Beverly Malone
Royal College of Nursing

However, there have been suggestions Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt is more sympathetic to a full ban than her predecessor, John Reid, who was secretary of state at the time of the white paper.

The government refused to be drawn on what the outcome will be.

A spokeswoman said: "The bill will be published later this year and that will set out what will be happening."

A study published in the British Medical Journal in March found that second-hand smoke killed 11,000 people a year in the UK - about 30 a day.

The RCN, along with more than 5,000 nurses and supporters, has written to the Department of Health during the consultation demanding a full ban.

RCN general secretary Beverly Malone said: "The issue of whether a pub serves food or not is irrelevant.

'Devastating effect'

"This is about having no choice about breathing in the smoke of others and the devastating effects of passive smoking on health."

She was joined by nurses working on the frontline, who said they wanted a full ban after seeing the devastating impacts of second-hand smoke.

Yana Richens, a consultant midwife from London, said passive smoking in pregnancy is linked to "low birth weight, premature birth and increased perinatal mortality".

"We have a duty to protect these babies and a public ban on smoking would go a long way to achieving this."

About 18 months ago we were talking about 1,000 a year and now it is 11,000. I think they pluck these numbers out of the air
Simon Clark, of Forest

And Sam Barlow, a specialist young person's nurse from Hull, added that a full ban was needed to help youngster quit.

"As a nurse, I work with youngsters who want to quit and see the conflicts and difficulties imposed on them when they visit pubs and clubs."

The nurses have been supported by doctors.

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the British Medical Association's head of science and ethics, said doctors were also in favour of a full ban.

"When the BMA asked its members to write to their MPs on the issue, over 1,000 responded within just 12 hours, calling on ministers to rethink these proposals."

But Simon Clark, director of smokers' lobby group Forest, cast doubt on the claims second-hand smoke was causing deaths.

"About 18 months ago we were talking about 1,000 a year and now it is 11,000. I think they pluck these numbers out of the air."

He added: "We accept there is going to be some sort of ban but think there should be wide-ranging exemptions.

"Pubs, clubs and bars should be fully exempted, while cafes and restaurants should be able to set up separate smoking areas if they wish to."

Hear an interview with the RCN general secretary

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15 Aug 05 |  Health
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20 Jun 05 |  UK Politics

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