30/01/2006

UCF urge lobbying of MP’s on smoking ban

The Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) is urging members of the public to lobby their local MP’s in advance of the Westminster debate on comprehensive smokefree workplaces in England.

The charity has already written to all MPs in Northern Ireland but is now calling on the public to encourage local MPs to add their names to the Health Select Committee’s Amendment to get rid of the exemptions for pubs that don’t serve food and private members’ clubs. The public are also being asked to urge their MPs to attend the report stage debate and to vote for comprehensive smokefree workplaces in England.

Gerry McElwee, Head of Cancer Prevention at UCF said, “It may seem strange to be working so hard to get our local MPs to participate in legislation which affects England, but we believe that it has direct consequences for us in Northern Ireland.

“Many of us have friends and relatives living, working and studying in England. We firmly believe that they deserve the same degree of protection from secondhand tobacco smoke as those of us living in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“If we don’t use this opportunity to speak out about implementing a partial ban in England, some of the most vulnerable groups of workers will be unprotected, simply because their workplace does not serve food. Such legislation will only exacerbate the already large problem of health inequalities.

“A partial ban will be highly unworkable as well as confusing for staff and customers. Complete legislation has been extremely successful in the Republic of Ireland and there is no reason why it could not be just as successful in England."

The Health Bill Amendment will be debated in Westminster on Monday, February 13.

Mr McElwee said that current thinking indicated that England may only implement a partial ban and appealed for help.

Your MP may be contacted by typing your postcode into www.theyworkforyou.com and following the online instructions.

(SP)

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