date: Tuesday 16th August 2005
embargo: For immediate release
Attention: health, social, industrial and business correspondents and newsdesk editors
In its response to the Health Improvement and Protection Bill the Northern TUC congratulates the Government on its move to ban smoking from the overwhelming majority of workplaces, but urges them to take this to its logical conclusion and bring in an outright ban with no exemptions.
As it stands, the current legislation which exempts pubs and bars not serving food, will leave workers who need it the most (in approximately 30,000 pubs and private clubs) no better protected. The absence of a full ban will also have a disproportionate impact on the North East which has more of these pubs and clubs than most other parts of the country.
At least one bar worker dies every week as a result of passive smoking at their workplace. In addition, thousands more become ill; developing asthma or other health conditions caused by second hand smoke that force them to leave the industry.
The Northern TUC does not accept that there is any justification for treating pub and club workers differently from other workers, or the argument from the tobacco and certain sections of the hospitality industries that such a ban would have a negative impact on trade and employment. A 2002 study on the economic effects of smoke free policies on the hospitality industry found no negative impact on revenue or jobs.
Furthermore, a recent report by the Royal College of Physicians suggests that an outright ban on smoking in all enclosed public places would save the UK a staggering £4 billion each year! This predicted saving would come from increased productivity, lower NHS costs, reduced insurance, and cleaning and fire-related bills.
Peter O'Brien, Northern TUC Policy Officer and author of the response commented, "Pubs and clubs produce some of the highest levels of exposure to smoke. If we are to protect all workers from all forms of industrial illnesses, then ending smoking in all workplaces has to be introduced.
The North East would benefit significantly from a ban on smoking in all workplaces. The North East tops the table for poor health, which is a major contributor to the region's poor economic performance and social deprivation. Reducing smoking rates should be central to any strategy to tackle social, economic and health inequalities.'
Notes to Editors:
All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk
120,00 smokers die every year from smoking-related diseases such as lung cancer and heart attacks - six times the number killed in road accidents.
30% of the NE population smoke, compared to a national average of 27%.
The North East has one of the worst mortality rates in the country.
Smoking is the biggest single preventable cause of premature death - 15 people die each die from their smoking habit.
Northern TUC is a member of Smoke Free North East (FRESH) - the regional body funded by local primary care trusts, and supported by regional stakeholders, which aims to deliver a comprehensive and coordinated tobacco control programme across the North East.
Media enquiries : Susanne Nichol on 0191 232 3175 / 07771873108 or [email protected]
Peter O'Brien on 0191 232 3175 / 07747636317 or [email protected]
Issued: 16 August, 2005