02/03/2005

Passive smoking kills 30 a day in UK, claims study

Passive smoking kills at least 30 people every day, both at work and at home, in the UK, a study in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has claimed.

Research conducted by Professor Konrad Jamrozik from the University of Queensland showed that passive smoking is likely to be responsible for the deaths of 617 workers in the UK each year. The research also claimed that 54 deaths in the hospitality industry are attributable to second-hand smoke every year.

Professor Jamrozik suggested that exposure to second-hand smoke in work could contribute to as many as a fifth of all deaths from passive smoking in people aged between 20-64 and up to half of such deaths in employees in the hospitality industry.

Passive smoking at home might also account for a further 2,700 deaths in people aged between 20-64, the research found, as well as a further 8,000 deaths per year among the over-65s, mainly from strokes and heart disease.

Professor Jamrozik said that several thousand premature deaths in the UK could be prevented by the introduction of a smoking ban in all workplaces as well as reductions in the general prevalence of active smoking.

The government's White Paper on Public Health, published last November, included proposals for a smoking ban in public places, although pubs, which do not serve food, would be exempt from the ban. However, there have criticisms that this ban would not be enough.

The British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Joint Consultants Committee have all announced their intention to support the city of Liverpool in its' bid to introduce a complete ban in all workplaces.

The private bill is due to face its' second reading in the House of Lords on March 11.

Chairman of the BMA, James Johnson, said: "With the latest figures in this BMJ paper revealing that second-hand smoke at work kills more than 600 non-smokers every year in the UK, I don't know how John Reid can continue to serve the public half-measures on health. We need a total ban and we need it now."

Sylvia Denton, President of the RCN, added: "No one is denying a smoker rights, but as nurses we have to be advocates for everyone's health. Introducing smokefree measures is an effective way to save lives."

(KMcA/SP)

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