UK doctors demand wider smoking ban
British doctors called on Thursday for a ban on smoking in all enclosed public places, saying government proposals for a partial ban could be unworkable.
The British Medical Association, which represents three quarters of the country’s doctors, said plans to outlaw smoking in workplaces, restaurants and in pubs serving food do not go far enough.
It wants Prime Minister Tony Blair’s re-elected government to follow the example of Ireland, Norway and other countries that have banned smoking in all restaurants and pubs.
“The Labour government has just started its third term of office, it is time it showed leadership and ban smoking in all enclosed public places,” the BMA’s head of science and ethics Dr Vivienne Nathanson said in a statement.
She said a BMA survey published on Thursday had uncovered some confusion among local government officials over which pubs in their areas would be included in any ban.
It also found wide regional differences in the number of establishments that would be affected, with many more non-food pubs that would be exempt from the ban in northern England.
The government said only between 10 and 30 percent of pubs did not serve food. But the BMA survey of 29 councils found that 13 of these, mostly in the north, estimated that the number of non-food pubs in their area exceeded the government’s figure.
Leeds had the highest estimate, with 88 percent of pubs thought not to serve prepared food.
Research reported in March suggested that second-hand smoke at work may kill more than 600 people each year in Britain.
Ian Foulkes, director of policy at the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, said the current proposals would still leave those at greatest risk, such as bar workers, unprotected from the smoking ban.
“We believe that the only method of protecting workers in indoor environments from the effects of tobacco is for all workplaces to be smoke-free,” he said. “It is also our view that the government’s proposals will be totally unenforceable.”
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