Select Committee on Health Written Evidence

Memorandum by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine of the Royal College of Physicians (SP 49)

  The Inquiry is concerned with smoking in public places. But locations which are public places for most people are also work places for others. The Faculty of Occupational Medicine is primarily concerned with the health of people in their workplaces. We therefore welcome the fact that some workers will be protected from the ill-effects of tobacco smoke under the proposed arrangements. However, we are very concerned that the provisions, as they stand, will exclude some bar staff from that protection. These bar workers, who will continue to be exposed to carcinogens and other noxious agents in some private clubs and non-food pubs, will be amongst the lowest paid in the workforce, and so this measure could exacerbate health inequalities.

  We feel that, in the general debate about this issue, the freedom for some to smoke has been given disproportionate prominence at the expense of debate about protecting employees' health. Under the proposed provisions, customers will have the choice to opt for smoke-free environments, but many bar staff will not.

  I enclose the Faculty's response to the consultation on smoke-free places which sets out this argument in more detail. [3]

  I hope that this response will assist the Health Select Committee in its deliberations and might presuade the Committee to consider the benefits of all workplaces, including private clubs and non-food pubs, becoming smoke-free, so that all workers, including those who are amongst the lowest paid in society, can benefit from the protection of this legislation.

November 2005

3   Not printed. Back

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