Liverpool is justified in its attempt to go smokefree

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New figures showing that second-hand smoke at work kills over 600 people every year in the UK leave no doubt that Liverpool is justified in its attempt to go smokefree, say doctors and nurses.

The British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and the Joint Consultants Committee (JCC) are all backing Smokefree Liverpool's private bill due for its second reading in the House of Lords on 11 March.

New evidence of the high number of deaths caused by passive smoking comes in a paper published in the British Medical Journal. The paper concludes that second-hand smoke kills at least 30 people every day at work and at home in the UK.

Mr James Johnson, Chairman of the BMA and a vascular surgeon in Merseyside said today: "Of course doctors back Liverpool's bid to go smokefree. The point is we want every city, every town and every village in the UK to go smokefree. As doctors we see first-hand how second-hand smoke kills."

He added: "With the latest figures in this BMJ paper revealing that second-hand smoke at work kills more than 600 non-smokers every year in the UK, I don't know how John Reid can continue to serve the public half-measures on health. We need a total ban and we need it now."

All three organisations urge the Government to take every opportunity to facilitate the bill's progress. Professor William Dunlop, Chairman of the JCC, said:

"As an obstetrician I regularly see the shattering effects of second-hand smoke including miscarriage and cot death. Women have a right to work in a smokefree environment to protect their health and the health of their children. Passive smoking affects every medical specialty and the Presidents of all medical royal colleges are united in their support of Liverpool's bill."

Sylvia Denton, President of the RCN, said that Smokefree Liverpool could count on the support of nurses:

"One of the RCN's key manifesto commitments is for smoking in enclosed public places to be banned. We therefore support Liverpool's bill. Given the unarguable scientific evidence, it is now essential that policies are put into place to protect the public from exposure to other people's smoke.

"No one is denying a smoker rights, but as nurses we have to be advocates for everyone's health. We identified the risk posed by Sudan 1 in food, surely it's time to prevent the risks associated with exposure to tobacco smoke. Introducing smokefree measures is an effective way to save lives."

A simultaneous press conference4 will be taking place in Liverpool. Local GP, Dr Rob Barnett will be taking part as well as representatives of the Liverpool Primary Care Trust and the Roy Castle Foundation.

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