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Smoking Thursday, 10 December, 1998, 04:35 GMT
Public say passive smoking is dangerous
Smoking
The public supports moves to cut smoking
People are concerned about the health risks of passive smoking and want the government to do more discourage smokers, according to a survey.

The research, published by the magazine Health Which? on the same day that the government launches a White Paper on smoking, found that many people are concened about passive smoking, even tough the risk may be quite small.

Health Which? interviewed more than 900 people, both smokers and non-smokers, about their views on passive smoking and its health risks.

The research found:

  • Sixty-eight per cent thought passive smoking is a serious risk to health;
  • Sixty-seven per cent in total, and half of smokers, thought that the government should do more to discourage smoking;
  • Ninety-three per cent thought it was irresponsible to smoke near babies and children;
  • Sixty-two per cent were more worried about the health risks of passive smoking than the smell of tobacco.

Inaction not an option

Maggie Gibbons, managing editor of Health Which?, said: "It is clear that people are concerned about passive smoking and a strong majority wants the government to do more to discourage smoking.

"There is no easy way for the government to juggle public health concerns, individual freedom, scientific disagreement and vested interests. But our research shows that doing nothing is not an option."

Smoke
The dangers of cigarette smoke are unclear
The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH), appointed by the government to investigate the impact of smoking, concluded that exposure to tobacco smoke in the environment is a cause of lung cancer.

For those who are exposed to tobacco smoke over the long-term, the increased risk of contracting the disease was estimated to be 20% to 30%.

However, the SCOTH findings have been challenged by the tobacco industry, which challenged the committee's independence and authority.

In March, this year British American Tobacco drew attention to a World Health Organisation study, claiming that the research had concluded the risk of passive smoking to be insignificant.

However, the WHO responded by arguing that the report had actually found a possible increased risk of lung cancer of 16% to 17%.

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