One person working in the hospitality trade dies every week from passive
smoking at work, doctors have warned.
The figures from the Royal College of Physicians come as it has emerged that
the Government is likely to announce new laws on smoking in public later this
Professor Konrad Jamrozik, of Imperial College, London, estimated that
passive smoking at work causes 49 deaths each year in hospitality industry
employees, twice as many as from domestic exposure in this group.
Environmental tobacco smoke in the workplace causes about 700 deaths each
year in the UK, he calculated. And at least 3,600 people below the age of 65
died each year from lung cancer, heart disease and stroke caused by passive
smoking at home, he added.
The figures were announced at a college-backed conference called
Environmental Tobacco Smoke and the Hospitality Industry.
Imperial College president Carol Black said: "Environmental tobacco
smoke in pubs, bars, restaurants and other public places is seriously damaging
to the health of staff, as well as the public. Making these places smoke free
not only protects vulnerable staff and the public, it will also help more than
300,000 people in the UK to stop smoking."
Anti-smoking lobby group Action on Smoking and Health described the figures
as "truly shocking".
Legislation looks set for summer
The Government looks likely to
announce some form of legislative crackdown on workplace smoking this summer.
Representatives from the British Hospitality Association (BHA)
and the British Beer and Pub Association met culture secretary Tessa Jowell and
public health minister Melanie Johnson in May to discuss smoke-free workplaces.
The industry had suggested that, instead of laws to ban smoking
in pubs and bars, a tougher voluntary regime should be introduced, including
restricting smoking at the bar. But the BHA said ministers now appeared set on
bringing in new laws. One possibility mooted is to give local authorities the
power to implement legislation.
Ministers have been under increasing pressure from medical and
public health campaigners to crack down on smoking in pubs and bars, especially
as initial indications appear to show that Ireland’s ban is working well. The
Government is expected to outline its plans in July, when it publishes a White
Paper on public health.