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Fake cigarette packs present MPs with life-saving choice

The Cancer Research UK logo
by Cancer Research UK | News

14 February 2006

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Strict Embargo: 00:01hrs Monday February 13, 2006

Today (Monday 13 February 2006) all MPs will receive a fake cigarette pack bearing a very real health warning: SECONDHAND SMOKE KILLS BAR WORKERS.

Sent by Cancer Research UK to coincide with tomorrow’s Health Bill vote, the fictitious brand, ‘Your Choice’, will bring home the life-saving impact MPs’ votes could have. Workers will continue to die needlessly unless they back a comprehensive smokefree law without exemptions.

The Government has given MPs three options: to vote for the original proposals, which exempt private member’s clubs and pubs that do not serve food; to exempt private member’s clubs only; or to vote for a comprehensive smokefree law for all workplaces, including all pubs and private members’ clubs.

To spell out why a comprehensive law is the only viable option, Cancer Research UK has filled the packs with mock cigarette cards outlining the major arguments and dispelling persistent myths.

Professor Alex Markham, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “The message couldn’t be any louder or clearer. Our cigarette packets drive home the message that making all workplaces – including private members’ clubs – smokefree without exemption is the only sensible option. One bar worker a week dies from exposure to secondhand smoke and anything other than a comprehensive law would allow this needless waste of life to continue.

“It’s a disgrace that bar workers and the general public in England might not enjoy the same rights to health as those in Scotland and Northern Ireland. We call on all MPs to seize this monumental opportunity to improve the health of the country and vote for a comprehensive smokefree law.”

Any partial law is widely acknowledged to be unworkable, safeguarding the health of some workers while leaving many of those who are most at risk unprotected. And repeated polls have shown that more than 70 per cent of people support a comprehensive smokefree law.

Workers’ health should be at the heart of the new law. Secondhand smoke is a health and safety risk, increasing the overall chance of developing lung cancer and heart disease by almost 25 per cent. Current proposals leave thousands of workers unprotected and many pubs, particularly those in poorer areas, could stop serving food to allow smoking to continue.

Private members’ clubs are workplaces too and all employees deserve an equal right to protection from secondhand smoke at work. There are over 20,000 private members’ clubs in England and Wales, including working men’s clubs, golf clubs and leisure centres.

The tobacco lobby and some sectors of the hospitality industry often claim that going smokefree will damage profits. But the objective evidence does not support this. No independent peer reviewed study has ever found a significant negative economic impact and a review of smokefree laws across Europe shows that they do not damage profits.


For media enquiries please contact Sophy Gould on 020 7061 8318, or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059.

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