A human sandwich and a hot dog took on two giant cigarettes in a larger than life tug-of-war on Tuesday. The stunt highlighted the ridiculous choice that could face pubs in the future: food or fags.

The tug-of-war coincided with the second reading in Parliament of the Government’s Health Bill.

The Government plans to exempt pubs that do not serve ‘prepared’ food from the new smokefree law, leaving thousands of bar staff exposed to the seriously damaging effects of secondhand smoke.

Cancer Research UK and Asthma UK are not taking the compromised law lying down. To highlight the ridiculous exemptions proposed to the legislation, they hosted the tug-of-war to draw attention to the widely discredited proposals.

Both charities call on the Government to bring England in line with the rest of the UK and make all workplaces and enclosed public places smokefree, as soon as possible.

Professor Alex Markham, Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK, says: “We have arranged this larger than life t ug-of-war to highlight a very serious issue. The future health of bar workers should not be dictated by the type of food or snacks served at their place of work.

“The distinction between ‘ambient’ and ‘prepared’ food is arbitrary and confusing. This compromised ban would be extremely difficult to enforce.”

Donna Covey, Chief Executive of Asthma UK, says: “We agree that this smoking ban is a ludicrous compromise that puts the health of workers at risk. Working where others smoke doubles your risk of developing asthma and exposure to secondhand smoke is the second most common asthma trigger in the workplace.

“It is not just workers who are being put at risk. There are over 4 million adults with asthma in the UK and 82 per cent of them tell us that other people’s smoke makes their asthma worse. Secondhand smoke poses a lethal threat to health and should be banned in all enclosed public spaces, without exception.”


Cancer Research UK and Asthma UK are two of the many health organisations who are dismayed over plans to exempt pubs that serve ‘prepared’ food and private membership clubs from the smoking ban.

The organisations are part of a coalition – called Smokefree Action – that brings together leading UK health and medical organisations, professional bodies and other groups working towards smokefree workplaces and enclosed public places. The coalition is led by Cancer Research UK, Asthma UK, British Medical Association, British Heart Foundation, ASH, the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, National Heart Forum and the Royal College of Physicians.

Representatives of the hospitality industry, environmental health staff and health groups joined forces on Monday (28 November) to demand a comprehensive smokefree law.