Write to your MPs, BMA tells doctors

BMA Cymru Wales is calling on doctors across Wales to write to their members of parliament to support a ban on smoking in public places.

Last year, the National Assembly for Wales voted for such a ban. Unfortunately, the Assembly didn't have the power: Wales being reliant on the Westminster Parliament to legislate.

Secretary of State for Wales Peter Hain has assured the BMA that the Public Health Bill - when it comes before Parliament - will contain a clause enabling the Assembly to pass its own secondary legislation, but the earliest that could happen would be 2007.

Welsh secretary of the BMA, Dr Richard Lewis said: "We believe that such a wait is unacceptable, and we are urging doctors working in Wales to write to their MP to support Cardiff West MP Julie Morgan's private members bill in January.

"Smoking hills. Passive smoking kills. We must do something about it now."

27% of adults in Wales smoke. According to the National Public Health Service for Wales, smoking rates vary greatly by social class ­ with 33% of people in Wales in social class 5 smoking (most deprived) compared to 20% for social class 1 (least deprived).


Smoking is the country¹s biggest cause of preventable death. It causes at least 80% of all deaths from lung cancer, around 80% of all deaths from bronchitis and emphysema and around 17% of all deaths from heart disease.

According to figures presented to a conference of the Royal College of Physicians in May 2004 by Professor Konrad Jamrozik, formerly of Imperial College London, exposure to second-hand smoke at work across the UK leads to approximately 700 deaths from these causes annually from lung cancer, heart disease and stroke combined ( http://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/news/news.asp?PR_id=216). For comparison, the total number of deaths from all industrial accidents in the UK in 2002/3 was reported by the Health and Safety Executive as 226. Jamrozik also estimated that on average one worker in the hospitality industries dies from exposure to second-hand smoke each week. According to the British Medical Association, the number of premature deaths in Wales from exposure to second-hand smoke is about 30 each year ( http://www.wales.gov.uk/keypubassemsmoking/content/rop-040923.htm).

The most authoritative survey of public attitudes on second-hand smoke showed overwhelming public support in Wales for a new law. The poll was conducted by MORI and commissioned by Action on Smoking and Health. More than four thousand people were interviewed across the country between 15th April and 4th May 2004. 78% of those polled in Wales supported a law to ensure that all enclosed workplaces must be smokefree.

Public health experts have criticised the exemptions proposed in the White Paper. First, they would leave some of Britain¹s most vulnerable employees ­ bar staff - at risk from second-hand smoke. Secondly, exempted pubs would be concentrated in Britain¹s poorest communities, which also have the highest smoking rates, undermining the Government¹s drive to reduce health inequalities.



The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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