A ban on smoking in enclosed public places would reduce the amount of smoking in the home, according to a study by the Royal College of Physicians.
The study, Going smoke-free: the medical case for clean air in the home, at work and in public places, is said by the college to be the first comprehensive overview of passive smoking, covering medical, legal, economic and ethical aspects.
The report estimated that passive smoking currently kills about 12,000 people in the UK every year. Most deaths are caused by passive smoking in the home, but about 500 people die each year because of exposure at work.
Exposure is particularly high for some workers in the hospitality industry, such as bar workers, the study argued.
The government is currently consulting on its proposals to end smoking in all enclosed public places, with the exception of pubs that do not serve prepared food and membership clubs.
The case of the anti-smoking lobby, which wants a total ban, was boosted in August when the Health and Safety Commission called for the exemptions to be dropped from the final Health Improvement and Protection Bill, which is due before parliament in November.