Evidence supporting smokefree arguments Take action to implement smokefree policies and campaigns Multimedia and related smokefree resources Links to other relevant sites


Summary: Why we need a Smokefree law
Health Select Committee (external link)
Health Bill: Briefings
ASH Response to draft regulations (word doc)
ASH Response to prison service instruction consultation (word doc)
Supplementary submission with reference to smoking and mental health institutions (word doc)

Health Act 2006: Latest version (pdf)
Health Bill: House of Lords (third reading)
Health Bill: Report Stage: Contd.
Health Bill: Grand comittee 4th day
Health Bill: Grand comittee 3rd day
Health Bill: Grand committee 2nd day
Health Bill: Grand committee 1st day
Health Bill: House of Lords (second reading)
Health Bill: House of Lords
Health Bill: Third reading
Health Bill: Second reading
Health Bill: download PDF of original edition

The Draft Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006: Read online
Proposals set out to allow a free vote on smokefree public places: Read more at DH website

Read transcript of oral evidence taken before Health Committee

Download PDF of written evidence presented to Health Committee
Letters received regarding smokefree legislation: From Caroline Flint MP, from Nick Ainger MP
In detail: The case for legislation: read printable version

Smokefree consultation submission examples
ASH, ASH Wales ,Asthma Uk ,BHF , BMA , CIEH, CR-UK,Fresh, HSC, RCP, Thompsons, TUC

International Summary

Why We Need a Smokefree Law

Secondhand smoke is a killer

At work, it causes at least 600 premature deaths every year, nearly three times the number of people killed in industrial injuries and accidents.

If you breathe in other people’s smoke you have more chance of getting both lung cancer and heart disease. Secondhand smoke can cause cot death, middle ear disease and asthma in children .

For further information read the health paper

Everyone has a right to a smokefree workplace

Secondhand smoke is a workplace health and safety issue. Workers don’t have a choice about where they work. More than two million people in Great Britain still work in places where smoking is allowed throughout. Another ten million people work in places where smoking is allowed somewhere on the premises. The Government’s proposed exemptions for pubs that don’t serve prepared food and for private membership clubs would just leave the most exposed workers least protected.

For further information on workplace secondhand smoke read this paper

Smokefree laws help people quit smoking

Most smokers want to stop, and a smokefree law will help them succeed.  A smokefree law could cut smoking rates from about one in four of the adult population to closer to one in five. Poorer communities would benefit most.

Read the Government's regulatory impact assessment here

Download a pdf of the RIA here

Smokefree laws are good for business

A comprehensive smokefree law could benefit the British economy by up to £2.7 billion. This could include up to £680m by having healthier employees producing more goods and services, £140m saved through fewer sick days, £430m saved because less production would be lost to cigarette breaks and £100m saved by not having to clean up behind smokers.

For further information on smokefree laws read this paper

Ventilation doesn’t work

The tobacco industry and the groups it funds (such as FOREST) often claim that ventilation systems can remove smoke from the air. But they can’t. Ventilation may remove the smell of smoke but not the dangers, there is no safe level of secondhand smoke.

And separate smoking areas don’t work either, because smoke drifts.

For further information on ventilation read this paper

A smokefree law would be good for everyone – except the tobacco firms and their paid lobbyists. We need a smokefree law now. It’s about health and it’s about time.

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Health Bill



Second Reading

Report Stage


Second Reading

Report Stage

Health Act Regulations

ASH Response to draft regulations

ASH Response to prison service instruction consultation

Supplementary submission with reference to smoking and mental health institutions


Health Bill Progress

The latest edition of the Health Act 2006 can be read online here (pdf)

House of Lords

Read the transcript of the third reading of the Health Bill in the House of Lords on 4th July, here

Read the transcripts of the Report stage of the Health bill in the House of Lords, on the 19 June, here, and continued here.

Read the transcript of the fourth meeting of the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on the 16th May here

Read the transcript of the third meeting of the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on 9th May here

The transcript of the second meeting of the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on the 24th April, read it online here

The transcript of the meeting of the Grand Committee of the House of Lords on the 20th April, read it online here

The text of the second reading of the Health Bill in the House of Lords, on the 1st March, can be found here

House of Commons

You can read the text of the Health Bill, as brought from the Commons and ordered to be printed in the House of Lords on 15th February 2006, here.

You can read the transcript of the Bill's third reading, on 14th February 2006, in which MPs voted by a huge majority to adopt comprehensive smokefree legislation, here

You can read the transcript of the Bill's second reading, on 29 November 2005 here

You can download a PDF of the original Health Bill, as introduced to the house of commons on 27 October 2005, here.

Health Bill oral evidence

View HTML online version


This is the uncorrected transcript of the oral evidence presented to the Health Committee on 27 October 2005

Health Bill written evidence

Free vote

Did your MP vote for comprehensive smokefree legislation?

You can find out here

You can write to your MP, to thank them for voting for the bill, using this service

The Draft Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006

The Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Shaun Woodward MP, has launched an 8 week consultation period on the proposal for a draft Smoking (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

The Order will give effect to the Minister’s announcement on 17 October 2005 that comprehensive controls on smoking in enclosed workplaces and public places would be introduced by April 2007 to protect employees and the public from exposure to second-hand smoke

Read more here

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Letters received regarding smokefree legislation

The letters below were sent in response to a letter sent by the Smokefree Action Coalition on 13 September 2005:

30 September 2005

Caroline Flint MP

3 October 2005

Nick Ainger MP

These documents (PDFs) require Adobe Acrobat to be viewed. You can download this program for free here.

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Smokefree Places: the Case for Legislation

“Acts of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled by the unfavourable sentiments, and, when needful, by the active interference of mankind. The liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; he must not make himself a nuisance to other people.”

John Stuart Mill “On Liberty”, Chapter 3

Legislation to require all employers to ensure that their workplaces are smokefree is a key public health measure for three reasons.

  • First, secondhand smoke is dangerous to the health of non-smokers and in particular is a workplace health and safety risk.
  • Secondly, the current law offers wholly inadequate protection to employees and members of the public
  • Thirdly, ending smoking in the workplace would be probably the single simplest and most effective means of cutting smoking rates and would most benefit poorer and socially excluded communities.

This paper also shows that the level of public support for smokefree workplaces is high, and that this is likely to mean that enforcement of a new law would be relatively simple and cheap.


There is more than sufficient evidence for policy-makers to conclude that secondhand smoke is a very serious and inadequately regulated workplace health and safety hazard.

Tobacco smoke contains over 4000 chemicals in the form of particles and gases.[1] The particulate phase includes tar (itself composed of many chemicals), nicotine, benzene and benzo(a)pyrene. The gas phase includes carbon monoxide, ammonia, dimethylnitrosamine, formaldehyde, hydrogen cyanide and acrolein.  Some of these have marked irritant properties and almost 70 are known or suspected carcinogens (cancer causing substances). The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the USA has classified environmental tobacco smoke as a class A (known human) carcinogen along with asbestos, arsenic, benzene and radon gas. [2]

Some of the immediate effects of passive smoking include eye irritation, headache, cough, sore throat, dizziness and nausea. Adults with asthma can experience a significant decline in lung function when exposed, while new cases of asthma may be induced in children whose parents smoke.  Short term exposure to tobacco smoke also has a measurable effect on the heart in non-smokers.  Just 30 minutes exposure  is enough to reduce coronary blood flow. [3]

In the longer term, passive smokers suffer an increased risk of a range of smoking-related diseases.  Non-smokers who are exposed to passive smoking in the home, have a 25 per cent increased risk of heart disease and lung cancer. [4]  A major review by the Government-appointed Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH) concluded that passive smoking is a cause of lung cancer and ischaemic heart disease in adult non-smokers, and a cause of respiratory disease, cot death, middle ear disease and asthmatic attacks in children. [5] A more recent review of the evidence by SCOTH found that the conclusions of its initial report still stand i.e. that there is a “causal effect of exposure to secondhand smoke on the risks of lung cancer, ischaemic heart disease and a strong link to adverse effects in children”. [6] The review concluded:

“SCOTH’s conclusion is that knowledge of the hazardous nature of SHS has
consolidated over the last five years, and this evidence strengthens earlier estimates
of the size of the health risks. This is a controllable and preventable form of indoor
air pollution. It is evident that no infant, child or adult should be exposed to SHS.

This update confirms that SHS represents a substantial public health hazard.”

More than two million people in Great Britain still work in workplaces where smoking is allowed throughout. Another ten million people work in places where smoking is allowed somewhere on the premises. 

The figures were calculated by ASH using the Government’s Labour Force Survey for 2003 and the National Statistics Omnibus Survey, smoking-related behaviour and attitudes module, carried out in October and November 2003. The results have been verified by the Office for National Statistics. The detailed figures show that:

  • 2,182,000 people work in places with “no restrictions on smoking at all”. This is 8% of those in work in Great Britain
  • 10,366,000 people work in places where smoking takes place in “designated areas”. This is 38% of those in work.

Using SCOTH estimates of risk, Professor Konrad Jamrozik of  the University of Queensland has estimated in an article for the British Medical Journal that exposure to secondhand smoke in the workplace:

  • causes 54 premature deaths each year among hospitality industry employees – or more than one a week
  • causes more than 600 deaths each year across the UK

For comparison, the total number of fatal accidents at work from all causes in the UK in 2003/4 was reported by the Health and Safety Executive as 235. [7]

Current Law

Current UK law provides inadequate protection against the risks of secondhand smoke. For example, although secondhand smoke is a workplace carcinogen it is not listed under the UK’s Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations (COSHH). The Trades Union Congress says that the evidence clearly shows that failure to treat tobacco smoke in a similar way to other dangerous chemicals leads to the deaths or incapacity of many thousands of workers across the EU from lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis and asthma. [8]  Legislation to protect employees from secondhand smoke is also supported by most of Britain’s largest Unions, including the GMB, TGWU and UNISON.

The Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 1974 may permit actions for compensation for health damage from secondhand smoke at work. But use of the HSWA will be slow and cumbersome. Illness may occur many years after exposure, and many victims may have been exposed to secondhand smoke both at home and at work. Strong cases will therefore be hard to find. Many claims will be settled out of court, and will therefore set no precedent.

Smoking Prevalence

Smoking is the biggest single cause of preventable illness and premature death in the United Kingdom, killing more than 100,000 people each year.

It is also the biggest single cause of inequalities in health. In Britain, health inequalities by class have actually increased over time, as the decline in smoking prevalence has been far higher in social class I than in other social classes. Smoking is the greatest single factor in the different life expectancy between social classes. The Wanless Report gave the following table (5.1):

Proportion of Males Dying Under Age 70 


Social Class I

Social Class V


Actual proportion




Actual proportion predicted if all population were non smokers




Estimate proportion attributed to smoking




Source: Department of Health analysis

Local data on smoking prevalence illustrate the close link between smoking and deprivation. An interactive map of wards in England and Wales, showing smoking prevalence rates mapped against relative rankings of deprivation can be found on the ASH main website. [9]  Smoking prevalence rates are highest  in social class V.  As a result those in social class V who do not smoke are also more likely than other non-smokers to be exposed to secondhand smoke at work.

The impact of smoking on health inequalities is carried down from generation to generation. Children whose parents smoke are three times as likely to smoke themselves and are also more heavily exposed to the harmful effects of tobacco smoke pollution.

In consequence children from more deprived families have a higher risk of cot death, the onset of asthma as well as asthma attacks, respiratory diseases and ear infections. (1.5 million children in the UK have asthma – one in seven). Children in social class V may be doubly disadvantaged because they are also more likely to go on to become smokers themselves and suffer the ill effects of smoking, in particular lung cancer, heart disease and lung disease.

Therefore, improving the nation’s health requires a significant reduction in the number of people who smoke. This is not easy to achieve. Although 70% of smokers want to give up, less than 5% succeed each year. Tobacco in smoked form is the most highly addictive drug legally available and 90% of regular smokers start smoking before they are 18.

But most smokers want to quit. This is true for all socio-economic classifications. The 2003 survey by the Office of National Statistics, “Smoking Related Behaviour and Attitudes”, gave the following results for smokers wanting to quit: [10]                       

Would like to give up (%):

Managerial &


Routine & Manual

Never worked & Unemployed

Very much indeed





Quite a lot





A fair amount





A little










The Government already accepts the case for intervention to prevent people from starting to smoke and, once they’ve started, to help them give up. In 1998 it published the White Paper ”Smoking Kills”, which set out the strategy for achieving this. However, the White Paper targets are not sufficient to achieve the ‘fully engaged scenario’ set out in successive reports to Government by Derek Wanless. [11] This would require a fall in the number of smokers from 26% now to 17% of the population by 2011 and 11% by 2022.  The Government will not be able to contain NHS spending as proposed under the ‘fully engaged scenario’ unless these targets are achieved. 

When a workplace goes smokefree it can reduce smoking prevalence amongst workers by up to 4%. [12] People in lower paid jobs are far more likely to work in places where smoking is allowed, so legislation on smokefree workplaces would also help reduce health inequalities. 

In his latest report to the UK Government (“Securing Good Health for the Whole Population”) Derek Wanless stated that: “voluntary approach to smoking in the workplace has had limited success” and that “A number of other countries have now implemented a workplace smoking ban via legislation. Some of this experience has been shown to be successful in reducing the prevalence of smoking. Public support for smoking restrictions has also been found, in surveys, to be high…” (para 4.21). “Some studies estimate that a workplace smoking ban in England might reduce smoking prevalence by around 4 percentage points – equivalent to a reduction from the present 27 per cent prevalence rate to 23 per cent if a comprehensive workplace ban were introduced in this country.” (Box 4.2).

For young people smoking is a social activity. It has been described by Professor John Britton (Professor of Public Health at Nottingham University) as “like an infectious disease which spreads from one person to another”. Therefore smokefree legislation which prevents young people from smoking in coffee bars, pubs, bars, clubs and other places they congregate is an effective means of reducing the numbers starting to smoke. For example, research has shown that young people in colleges with a no-smoking policy for staff and students were half as likely to smoke as those in colleges that allowed smoking. And those who did smoke consumed fewer cigarettes. [13]

The true reason for tobacco industry opposition to smoking restrictions in workplaces was revealed by Philip Morris in an internal document from 1992. The company said that “total prohibition of smoking in the workplace strongly affects industry volume. Smokers facing these restrictions consume 11% to 15% less than average and quit at a rate that is 84% higher than average … these restrictions are rapidly becoming more common … Milder workplace restrictions, such as smoking only in designated areas, have much less impact on quitting rates and very little effect on consumption”.[14]

Enforcement and Public Support

Smoking restrictions generally do not require intensive or costly enforcement. This has been the experience in Ireland and New York, and of course on the London Underground, other UK metro systems, buses and elsewhere. The reason for this is that such restrictions are generally observed by popular concensus.

In Ireland, the latest report from the Office of Tobacco Control shows that:

  • Compliance with the smoke-free workplace legislation is very high

- 94% of all workplaces inspected under the National Tobacco Control

Inspection Programme were smoke-free

- 92% of all workplaces inspected by the Health and Safety Authority were smoke-free

- 93% of all hospitality workplaces inspected were smoke-free

  • There is overwhelming support for the smoke-free law among smokers and nonsmokers

- 98% of people believe that workplaces are healthier

- 96% of people feel that the smoke-free law is a success

- 93% of people think the smoke-free law is a good idea

  • Air quality in pubs has improved dramatically since the smoke-free law
  • Levels of carbon monoxide have decreased by 45% in non-smoking bar workers
  • 96% of all indoor workers report working in smoke-free environments since the

introduction of the smoke-free workplace law. [15]

In Britain, it is likely that a new law would be enforced through local authority Environmental Health Officers.

Support for smokefree legislation is strong across social classes. The most authoritative survey was conducted by MORI and commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health. More than four thousand people were interviewed between 15th April and 4th May 2004. The results showed:

Four out of five (80%) of those polled support a law to ensure that all enclosed workplaces must be smokefree.

  •  86% of social class AB supported the proposal, 83% of social class C1, 79% of social class C2 and 72% of social class DE. 
  • Even regular smokers support a new law: the poll shows support from 59% of daily smokers and 68% of infrequent smokers.[16] 

The least support for restrictions on smoking relates to pubs. But even here, in the 2003 ONS survey, 90% supported restrictions on smoking. [17]  Pubs are among the workplaces with the highest levels of exposure to tobacco smoke amongst employees. Therefore if the principle is accepted that employees should be protected from this serious health and safety risk, it would not be justified to exclude pubs from any regulations. This level of support for ending smoking in pubs is also higher than in Ireland before smokefree legislation came into effect.[18]

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[1] Respiratory health effects of passive smoking. EPA/600/6-90/006F  United States Environmental  Protection Agency, 1992. [View document]

[3] Otsuka, R.  Acute effects of passive smoking on the coronary circulation in healthy young adults.   JAMA 2001; 286: 436-441  [View abstract

[4]  Law MR et al. Environmental tobacco smoke exposure and ischaemic heart disease: an evaluation of the evidence.  BMJ 1997; 315: 973-80.  [View abstract]  Hackshaw AK et al.  The accumulated evidence on lung cancer and environmental tobacco smoke. BMJ 1997; 315: 980-88. [View abstract]

[5] Report of the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health.  Department of Health, 1998.    [View document]

[6] Secondhand smoke: Review of evidence since 1998. Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH). Department   of Health, 2004.  http://www.advisorybodies.doh.gov.uk/scoth/PDFS/scothnov2004.pdf

[7] “Estimate of Deaths Among Adults in the United Kingdom Attributable to Passive Smoking”: BMJ/2004/227587, by Konrad Jamrozik MBBS DPhil FAFPHM MFPH ILTM, Professor of Evidence-Based Health Care, University of Queensland. http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/index.htm).

[12] Fichtenberg CM, Glantz SA. Effect of smoke-free workplaces on smoking behaviour:systematic review. BMJ 2002;325:188-191.

[13]  Charlton A, While D, Smoking Prevalence among 16-19 year olds in sixth form colleges and further education. Health Education Journal 1994;53:28-39

[14] http://legacy.library.ucsf.edu/cgi/getdoc?tid=qhs55e00&fmt=pdf&ref=results

Progress in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and English Local Authorities


The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005

Scottish Statutory Instrument 2006 No. 90. The Prohibition of Smoking in Certain Premises (Scotland) Regulations 2006

The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Act 2005 (Prohibition of smoking in certain premises) Regulations 2005: Draft

Under the UK’s devolution legislation, this is an issue on which the Scottish Parliament has jurisdiction.

In a statement to the Scottish Parliament on 10th November 2005, Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell outlined plans for comprehensive legislation ending all smoking in all enclosed public places; the legislation came into force on 26th March 2006.

The Scottish Executive published detailed regulations on 10th March 2005, under the proposed Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill.  These regulations:

· confirm that smoking will not be allowed in enclosed public places, including bars, restaurants, pubs, clubs, shopping centres, libraries, hospitals, hotels and educational facilities

· offer limited exemptions are to be granted on the basis of humanity to care homes, some hospices, psychiatric ward, as well as to oil rigs, designated hotel bedrooms and police cells

The legislation will be enforced by Environmental Health and Local Licensing Officers. Licensees or employers who fail to enforce the law will face fines up to a maximum of £2,500. Licensees who persistently refuse to comply with the law will face the ultimate sanction of losing their liquor licence. The Executive is considering a system of issuing fixed penalty notices for those individuals who break the law. Those individuals who persistently break the law will face a maximum fine of £1,000

On 30th June 2005, the Scottish Parliament voted for The Smoking, Health and Social Care (Scotland) Bill. The final vote was passed by 97 to 17 with one abstention. The legislation will come into force at 6am on 26th March 2006.


Under the UK’s devolution legislation, the National Assembly for Wales does not currently have powers to introduce comprehensive legislation.

The Government's consultation document on the Health Bill has confirmed that it will give the Assembly specific powers to introduce comprehensive legislation along Scottish lines.

On 22 January 2003, a Motion was brought by Alun Pugh AM (Labour) to recommend to the UK Parliament the enactment of legislation prohibiting smoking in public places in Wales. Members of the Assembly were given a free vote and approved the resolution by 39 votes to 10 with majorities in all four parties in favour. All four party leaders (Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative, Plaid Cymru) and all four party health spokesmen voted for the resolution.

On 10th May 2005, the Assembly’s Committee on Smoking in Public Places reported. The Committee is calling for the UK Government to give the Assembly powers to introduce a new law ending smoking in enclosed workplaces and public places in Wales, with tight exemptions for parts of long stay hospital units, prison cells and hotel rooms. The law would come into effect within 2 to 3 years. On 26th May, the full National Assembly voted in favour of the Committee’s recommendations by 40 votes to 9, with 3 abstentions. 

Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Assembly is currently in suspension and the issue of smoking in public places is the responsibility of the Northern Ireland office and UK ministers. The minister responsible for health in Northern Ireland is Shaun Woodward MP.

On 21st December 2004, the Northern Ireland Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety began a three month consultation on its document  “A Healthier Future: A Twenty Year Vision for Health and Wellbeing in Northern Ireland”. [1] The consultation period ended on 25th March 2005.

The document set out the following three options

a.             Should restrictions on smoking in public places and in workplaces be a matter for self-regulation and should Government simply act to encourage and support smoking cessation? Or

b.             Should smoking generally be prohibited in most enclosed public places and workplaces, but allowed in certain settings such as pubs that do not prepare and serve food and in private clubs where the members decide to permit smoking? Or

c.             Should legislation be introduced to ban smoking in all enclosed public places and workplaces?

After the consultation Shaun Woodward, Minister for Northern Ireland, announced that the province will ban smoking in all workplaces including bars and restaurants from April 2007.  The new regulations will be similar to the smokefree legislation in force in the Republic of Ireland. [2]

Local Authority Private Bills

Liverpool City Council has promoted a Private Bill (the Liverpool (Liverpool City Council Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work Bill) to give it powers to end smoking in all workplaces and enclosed public places in the City. [3] The Association of London Government is also seeking similar powers (Association of London Government Bill (Prohibition of Smoking in Places of Work)). [4] Both Bills are backed by the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), the Joint Consultants Committee (JCC), ASH and others.

Councils from Merseyside deposited a Private Bill at the House of Lords on 28 th November 2005 to prohibit smoking in all enclosed workplaces, following overwhelming support from Councillors in Wirral, Knowsley and St Helens Metropolitan Borough Councils.

Many other Councils around Britain have backed action on secondhand smoke in their areas. These include Conservative controlled Poole Borough Council [5] and Labour controlled Manchester City Council. [6] Liverpool City Council has a Liberal Democrat majority.

ASH has compiled a database of local Council action on this issue and can be contacted for further details.

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Smokefree consultation submission examples

These are submissions to the government's smokefree legislation team sent as part of the consultation on the smokefree elements of the Health Bill :


Action on Smoking and Health's detailed response to the draft regulations of the Health Act consultation
Action on Smoking and Health's initial submission
Supplementary Evidence

ASH Wales

ASH Wales' submission

Asthma UK

Asthma Uk's submission


The British Heart Foundation's submission


The British Medical Association's submission


The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health's submission


The submission of Cancer Research UK


The submission of Fresh, Smokefree North East


Submission of the Health and Safety Commission


Submission of the Royal College of Physicians


Submission of Thompsons solicitors


Submission of the Trade Union's Congress

International Developments

Smoking in Workplaces and Public Places: International Evidence

A regularly updated summary of the international position by ASH Scotland can be found here:

Cancer Research UK held a major conference on 1st and 2nd March 2005, to look at the international experience of smokefree legislation.

Key success stories include Ireland, New Zealand and Norway.


The first to speak was Valerie Robinson from the Office of Tobacco Control, Ireland. She spoke about the progress in Ireland since the decision to go smokefree on March 29th 2004. Before introducing the legislation certain steps were taken such as a public debate.

Throughout the debate, misleading claims were put forward about how much the hospitality trade would suffer, how ventilation was an alternative to legislation and how   smokefree legislation even impinged on people’s right to smoke but the most common comment was that it would be unworkable. All of these claims were effectively countered with sound medical evidence on the dangers of secondhand smoke, evidence that ventilation is not an option as it doesn’t work and reiteration of the key point that exposure to secondhand smoke infringes on people’s civil liberties as non-smokers to be the involuntary victims of secondhand smoke.

The public debate included a long consultation to get as many stakeholders involved as possible in the process. This was seen as part of a confidence building plan, a way to deal with negative economic arguments and a chance to produce guidance booklets for employers and managers in the Irish Licensed Trade to   explain how and why smokefree legislation is a positive step for Ireland.

Since introduction Ireland’s smokefree legislation has been extremely popular with a compliance rate of more than 90%. Smoking prevalence in Ireland has fallen from 27% in 2002 to 24% in 2005 and publicans, who thought it would be hard to implement, have reported no serious difficulties

New Zealand

On 3 December 2003, an amendment to the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 was passed. The amendment (the Smokefree Environments Amendment Act 2003), required all workplaces including bars, cafes, casinos, restaurants, factories and schools to become smokefree from the 10th December 2004.

One year since the amendment was passed, the proportion of workers reporting smokefree workplaces has increased from 80 percent to 91 percent. Workers in factory and hospitality venues are likely to have seen the greatest changes. Public approval in New Zealand for the right to smokefree work environments grew from 79 percent in 2003 to 91 percent in 2005.

Research conducted by Waa and Gillespie for the New Zealand Department of Health concludes that the percentage of people reporting secondhand smoke exposure in their home has reduced by over 5 percentage points (from 20% to 14.7%). Other factors may have helped this result, in particular a media campaign called "Smokefree Homes: Take the Smoke Outside" that ran during 2005. Publicity around smokefree legislation in the workplace heightened awareness of damage caused by secondhand smoke and hence reduced exposure in the home.

Reducing Exposure to Second Hand Smoke: Changes associated with implementation of the amended Smoke-free Environments Act 1990: 2003–2005 . Report to the Ministry of Health. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Online here

The Smoke is Clearing: Anniversary Report 2005. Initial Data on the Impact of the Smoke-free Environments Law Change Since 10 December 2004

Wellington: Ministry of Health. Published in December 2005 by the Ministry of Health



Siri Næsheim from Smokefree Norway spoke about how Norway was the first country to adopt a nation-wide comprehensive end to smoking in all workplaces, restaurants, pubs and bars. Norway introduced legislation on smoking in public places in 1988 as a reaction to the increased awareness of the dangers of secondhand smoke. However some restaurants and bars were exempt from this and continued to provide separate smoking areas.

A study in 1999 found that the exemptions were difficult to police effectively and that supervision was random and superficial. Medical evidence stated that there were no ‘acceptable’ levels of risk related to secondhand smoke and it was decided that another consultation was needed to close these exemptions.

The decisive argument for comprehensive smokefree legislation was the need to protect the health of all employees irrespective of where they worked and this had the support from trade unions. Another reason it was decided to close the exemptions was after a Supreme Court decision found in favour of a plaintiff who developed lung cancer from secondhand smoke at work. Now employees could sue their employers over ill health caused by exposure to secondhand smoke at work.

The comprehensive ban to include   previously exempt bars and restaurants was seen to protect everyone equally from secondhand smoke, remove an important arena where many teenagers start smoking and stop the exclusion of people with asthma and allergies from social areas.   The same arguments against smokefree legislation were voiced once again but with no research or evidence to back the claims the smokefree legislation was passed by the majority of the Parliament and came into force June 1 st 2004.

An intensive and targeted mass media campaign was used to implement the strategy with the key message.

“Everyone has the right to a smokefree workplace.”

Detailed information packs were sent to the hospitality industry and a consistent PR and an advertising campaign across television, radio, internet and cinema meant everyone knew what to expect.

After nine months of implementation there   have been no negative changes in employment rate, there are more vacancies within the hospitality trade and no increase in bankruptcies. The public acceptance has increased from 30 per cent in 2001 to 79 per cent in 2004.

Full papers from the Conference can be downloaded from http://science.cancerresearchuk.org/news/meetings/smokefree.

For current progress on smokefree laws around the world see http://www.oldash.org.uk/html/publicplaces/html/intlaw.html


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