Health of millions of employees hangs on smoking ban: study

Local authorities are being urged to make all workplaces and enclosed public places smokefree after new research found that millions of UK workers are still operating in smoky environments.

According to new guidance, produced by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and the anti-smoking lobby group Ash, more than two million people in Britain still work in workplaces where smoking is allowed throughout. Another 10 million people work in places where smoking is allowed somewhere on the premises.

CIEH and ASH have described the new figures as “shocking evidence confirming that smoking is now the number one health and safety hazard in British workplaces”.

According to statistics, 2,182,000 people – or 8% of all Britain's employees – work in places with “no restrictions on smoking at all”. And around four-in-10 workers, 10,366,000 people, work in places where smoking takes place in “designated areas”.

Earlier this year, statistics showed that inhaling second-hand smoke at work may cause about 700 hundred premature deaths a year, three times the number of people killed in all industrial accidents in the UK.

The new guide, 'Achieving Smoke Freedom Toolkit', is designed to equip local authorities with all the information they need to allow them to push for all workplaces and enclosed public places in their areas to go smoke free.

The study found that local councils have enough powers and opportunities for action – but the government still needs to change the law on smoking in the workplace to ensure that council action can be fully effective.

Graham Jukes, CIEH Chief Executive, said: "This is one of the United Kingdom’s most significant public health issues and the government must show leadership by introducing a national prohibition on workplace smoking. In the meantime, with the publication of this toolkit, we are trying to assist local authorities to take action locally."

Deborah Arnott, ASH Director, said that even in the absence of government action, there was "a lot that local councils can and should be doing to move towards smoke free workplaces and public places".


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

27 October 2005
Government to introduce partial smoking ban
The government has announced plans to introduce a partial smoking ban, following reports of a Cabinet row over the proposals. The plans, introduced as part of the Health Improvement Bill, will see smoking banned in all public places in England, but there will be exemptions for pubs, which do not serve food and private members clubs.
02 April 2014
Wales Could Restrict The Use Of E-Cigarettes In Public Places
New measures to address some of Wales' major public health challenges, including high levels of drinking and smoking, are being put forward by the Welsh Government today.
16 September 2015
PHE And Health Bodies Issue Statement On E-Cig Use
The health risks of e-cigarettes are "relatively small" in comparison to regular cigarettes, Public Health England (PHE) has restated.
28 April 2005
BMA reinforces call for UK-wide smoking ban
The British Medical Association (BMA) has reinforced its call for a UK-wide ban on smoking in public places, with the publication of a report which, it claims, will “counter the myths” generated by opponents to the ban.
04 March 2011
Smoking Increases Risk Of Breast Cancer In Postmenopausal Women

Ahead of No Smoking Day on March 9th, bmj.com has published research indicating that
 postmenopausal women who smoke, or used to smoke, have up to a 16% higher risk of developing breast cancer compared to women who have never smoked.