30/06/2004

BMA urges Prime Minister to ban smoking in public places

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for all Britain's workplaces to become smokefree at the organisation's annual conference in Wales today.

The BMA said that it will be sending 4,500 letters, written by doctors demanding a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places, to the Prime Minister next week.

At the beginning of June the BMA urged 1,000 doctors to write a letter to the Prime Minister on this issue to represent the 1,000 people who die every year from second-hand tobacco smoke. By the end of the month 4,500 letters were received.

Delegates at the Llandudno conference heard that, in the UK, approximately three million workers are regularly exposed to second-hand smoke and around 1.3 million workers are exposed to second-hand smoke at least 75% of the time. Workers in lower socio-economic groups run the greatest risk of exposure, according to the BMA.

Dr Maguire, a consultant from Northern Ireland and the Deputy Chairman of the BMA Board of Science, said: "I live in Northern Ireland and yet I travel down to the Republic because I know that's where I have the choice to enjoy a beer in a smokefree pub. I have seen that the ban on smoking in public places in Ireland has not affected business – business is booming there.

Smokefree places means life not death."

He added: "The British government needs to have courage and follow the lead of Ireland, New York and Norway."

There is conclusive evidence that second-hand smoke causes lung cancer, heart disease and respiratory infections, he added.

(gmcg)

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