Scotland's doctors quiz Health Secretary on smoking

Scotland's doctors today took the opportunity to ask the English Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, what steps her Government was taking to protect workers in England from the deadly effects of second hand smoke, in light of moves towards a comprehensive ban in Scotland.

The debate came as Patricia Hewitt addressed delegates at the Annual Conference of the British Medical Association in Manchester earlier today.

Dr John Garner, a GP in Edinburgh, asked the Secretary of State:

“Scotland and Ireland are protecting workers and saving lives by banning smoking in enclosed public places. What and when will you do something to protect the English from passive smoking?”

Patricia Hewitt responded that, in England there were moves to ban smoking in virtually all enclosed public places by 2008, however she remained committed to the Westminster Government’s position to enable pubs which do not serve food to choose for themselves to allow smoking in their premises in England.

Dr David Sinclair, a GP in Fife, questioned the safety of employees who would remain working in a smoke-filled environment. However the Secretary of State did concede that as public opinion changes she expects that there would be more support for comprehensive legislation.

This debate comes as politicians prepare to debate the final stage of legislation for smoke-free enclosed public places in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

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