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Charity urges government to reveal smoking figures

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by Cancer Research UK | News

16 November 2005

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Cancer Research UK today demanded that the Government should reveal the results of its consultation process over a smoking ban in workplaces under the Freedom of Information Act.

The charity, which is campaigning for a complete ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, has asked the Department of Health to hand over an analysis of the 57,000 responses it received during its consultation on the smoke free aspects of the Health Bill.

Professor Alex Markham, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, says in a letter to the department: “We were extremely disappointed by the Cabinet’s decision to proceed with what we believe to be an unworkable exemptions-based approach.

“I am therefore writing to make a formal request under the Freedom of Information Act for any analysis relating to the 57,000 smokefree workplaces consultation responses.”

The charity wants to see a statistical breakdown showing how many voted for a comprehensive ban and how many voted for exemptions in pubs and clubs.

In Northern Ireland, where a comprehensive ban will come into effect in 2007, a similar consultation exercise elicited almost 71,000 responses of which more than 91 per cent favoured a complete ban on smoking in enclosed public places and all workplaces. Scotland will go smoke free in March 2006. Wales has also voted for a total ban to be introduced in 2007.

Surveys carried out earlier this year by Cancer Research UK showed that the vast majority of those questioned favoured a total ban.

Prof Alex Markham, said: “We believe that an analysis of the responses from the consultation process in England will show how strong the case is for all workplaces to be made smokefree.

“We have a duty to protect bar workers from other people’s smoke. Passive smoking is estimated to kill more than 600 people every year. And it is absurd that England is the only country in the UK that is failing all those who work in the hospitality industry.”

Notes to the Editor

The Government has voted to bring in a partial ban on smoking in public places in April 2007. Exemptions are to be made for pubs that do not serve prepared food and private members clubs.

Most of the proposed exemptions are located in poorer communities that have higher smoking rates. These exemption rates could make health inequalities even worse.

Many pubs that now serve food might stop if it would allow them to get round the smoking ban.

Smoking is the biggest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in the United Kingdom killing more than 100,000 people each year.

Research from Ireland has shown that a complete smoking ban is an incentive for people to quit.

Norway, Sweden, New Zealand, Bhutan and Ireland have total bans on smoking in all public places.

Italy, Canada and some US states have partial bans in most public places with exemptions for bars.