Memorandum by BBC Radio 4: You and Yours
You and Yours
is BBC Radio 4's flagship consumer and social affairs programme
broadcast between 12 noon and 1 pm every week day lunchtime.
The programme has 3.181 million listeners per
week. Their average age is 58. 54.6% of You and Yours listeners
are female. 45.4% are male.
The social grading of listeners breaks down
Between 9 November and 23 November, working
in conjunction with Health Select Committee members, we gave our
listeners the unique opportunity to contribute directly to the
committee's inquiry into smoking in public places.
We specifically asked our listeners to respond
to the following question:
"Do you feel the Government was right
to stop short of a comprehensive ban on smoking in public places?"
The response was overwhelming; within two weeks
we received 1,055 emails, calls and letters. They break down into
60% (626 listeners) called for a total ban.
22% (229 listeners) were in favour of no ban.
2% (12 listeners) thought the ban would be unworkable
in psychiatric hospitals.
18% (188 listeners) other.
None of the emails, calls and letters supported
the Government's plan to introduce a partial ban.
On the issue of the harmful effects of second
hand smoke we received an email from Dr Barbara Hanak:
"I am a GP. This morning I saw someone
who works in a restaurant and is suffering from the effects of
passive smoking. He gave up smoking due to respiratory problems
in 1992, but continues to suffer and needs expensive medication
due to exposure to smoke at work. He is not trained in any other
work. Any further delay in implementing the ban will cause lives
to be damaged or lost."
We had many emails, calls and letters from asthma
suffers. Some of them believed passive smoking was the cause of
their asthma. The majority found that passive smoking exacerbated
their asthmatic symptoms.
Suzan Spence, a former Registered Nurse:
"I suffer from Asthma and find passive
smoking affects my health. As soon as I am near a cigarette my
throat tightens and causes me discomfort, followed by coughing
and occasional wheezing. As an ex-Registered General Nurse I have
looked after people suffering from various health problems, from
throat and lung cancer to leg amputations. I find it difficult
to defend the rights of people who smoke in public places."
Brian Frank Holbrook:
"I suffer from asthma and can assure
you that secondary inhalation does harm people, I can be ill for
days after being in a smoky environment".
Division between rich and poor
Julia Kilminster-Biggs, an NHS Public Health
Manager from Bournemouth, and Deborah McCarthy, a stop smoking
nurse specialist from Preston, both summed up many of the responses
we had on the issue of the widening health inequalities gap.
"I know six pubs serving a large council
estate which already suffers from health inequalities. Two of
these pubs serve foodboth will probably stop serving food
to get round the legislation. I would estimate that 40% of this
estate is smokers. However, in more affluent areas of Bournemouth
a smoking ban will be in place. Whose health is being protected?"
"This policy will add to health inequalities
between rich and poor as most pubs that don't serve food are situated
within the poorest communities. Many of my clients inform me that
if all public places were smoke free it would help support them
Knock of effects of a total ban
Many of our emails in this category debated
the issue of whether the comprehensive ban on smoking in public
places would reduce levels smoking over all. One email on this
subject came from Dr. Phil Barber a Consultant Respiratory Physician
at the North West Lung Centre in South Manchester, also Director
of the Heart and Lung Division in the South Manchester Trust and
Chair of the Greater Manchester and Cheshire Lung Network:
"I would invite anyone from your programme,
or any interested politician, to visit the clinics and wards here
to see for themselves the human misery caused by smoking. I really
do think that you should be calling our politicians to account
for resisting what the rest of the civilised world cannot wait
to implement, bearing in mind that a complete ban on smoking in
public places is by far the most effective way to reduce active
This argument was also put forward in email
from Dr Charles Buckley a GP in Gloucester:
"A comprehensive ban on smoking in all
public houses and clubs, not just those serving food, will have
a major impact on helping my patients considering quitting and
as importantly reduce the relapse rate of those who have quit".
Other professions affected
The programme has also had responses from people
who work in pubs, restaurants and private member's clubs. Many
of those responses ask why their human rights are not considered
as important as people who work in other public area.
David Betts, Croupier:
"I work in a Stanley casino in Margate,
which as a private member's club will be exempt from the new protections
against passive smoking. I deal roulette and card games and I
am therefore in very close contact with a very smoky atmosphere.
Why are other staff, such as casino workers, excluded from protection?
I imagine customers would be amused if I wore an aqualung to work
but I think my employers would not. If passive smoking is accepted
as a risk, what measures are being put in place to assess the
risk in my workplace?"
You and Yours received a substantial
number of emails from restaurant and bar proprietors calling for
a complete ban on smoking in public places to ensure that all
businesses could compete on a level playing-field.
Malcolm Schooling, owner of bar and restaurant
"What a ridiculous idea it is to penalise
pubs that serve fresh and healthy food by creating an uneven playing
"As restaurant proprietors we trialled
a smoking ban a couple of years ago but suffered a decrease in
turnover. We found that if one person in a group smoked they would
insist the whole group go somewhere else. I was left feeling that
a total ban is the only workable solution".
Edda Locke, owner of bar and restaurant in West
"We recently tried to make our restaurant
completely smoke free but had to reappraise two months later as
we were 20% down on revenue. Unless there is a level playing field
with a complete ban we will end up with smokers going to other
establishments where they can smoke. Bars like ours which offer
a continental style of drinking will be put out of business."
Many of the 157 emails, calls and letters You
and Yours received from listeners objected to, what they referred
to as the Government's apparent obsession with a "nanny state".
Andrew Tarling, a pub landlord of 14 years,
raised concerns that the Government has taken away his right to
make a commercial decision about the future of his business which
is, he says, part of an industry that contributes £20 billion
per year to the treasury.
"I'm the landlord of The Half Moon Inn
at Horsington and I have built up a successful business. I employ
four fulltime staff and 12 part timers. All but one of my staff,
the chef and about 50% of my customers smoke. The Government has
taken away my right to run my business as I wish on the grounds
of employee health. I would have thought that unemployment due
to business failure would be somewhat more injurious to their
well- being, because the loss of smokers will undoubtedly mean
lay offs and pub closures through swathes of rural England."
Andrew Quarrie, proprietor of Exmoor Vending
"I make my sole income from the operation
of cigarette machines within licensed premises. This ban will
completely undermine my business and probably render me, at best,
unemployed or at worst, bankrupt. Why can't the proponents of
this ban accept the installation and maintenance of a smoking
room that is ventilated?"
Other responses questioned the science behind
a ban on smoking in public places.
Dr Phil Button:
"I have worked in the health service
as a GP and an anaesthetist for 23 years. Bans have been supported
by anti-smoking groups. These groups have driven their debate
with the invention of `passive smoking'. They have used this tool
to convince many that smoking is harmful to non-smokers. This
is pure fiction as all the available scientific evidence fails
to demonstrate any such phenomenon as `passive smoking'."
Dr Ken Denson, Thame Thrombosis and Haemostasis
"The scientific evidence for any deleterious
effect of ETS is wholly false. It is so tenuous and equivocal
that similar evidence would not seriously considered. The mean
exposure alone of the passive smoker is only 1/500th of that of
the active smoker. The decision as to whether ETS is harmful to
others should be made in a Court of Law."
Peta Seel a listener to the programme in France
expressed her concerns that one of her husband's last remaining
pleasures was being eradicated:
"My husband has smoked since he was 18.
He is now 86 and one of his few enjoyments left to him in life
is to go to a restaurant and enjoy a cigarette with his drink
before and also with his coffee. When we visit England he will
no longer go out."
Finally, in this category of those opposed to
the ban, we received an anonymous email from a secondary school
teacher in Ipswich.
"My wife and I both work in schools and
are both smokers. We work in very stressful situation and rely
on the odd cigarette, particularly when things get a touch hairy.
Prior to the recent spate of health fascism our schools has smoking
rooms, hidden away from sight, well-ventilated, a place to relieve
stress without causing anyone any harm. Now we are obliged to
go out onto the streets to smoke, in full view of the pupils,
which is appalling. The resulting stress on smokers caused by
the total bans urgently should be taken into account before sickness
You and Yours only received 12 responses
on this particular section of the inquiry. All of the correspondents
said that smoking should be allowed to continue on Psychiatric
Jessica Kate Paterson, former psychiatric patient:
"Two years ago I was a patient in the
acute ward of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital where just about everyone
smoked. Our lives revolved around smoking, I developed some important
friendships in the smoking room. Depriving depressed or otherwise
distressed patients of their cigarettes would be problematic in
Nicola Salt, psychiatric nurse with 20 years'
"I do not relish the idea of telling
certain challenging patients that they cannot smoke, nurses will
be subject to more verbal and physical abuse. Although I would
like to work in a smoke free environment I do not feel that the
nursing staff should be implementing the ban on smoking."
Dr Catherine Jones, psychiatrist:
"If you are physically ill you can always
refuse treatment if smoking is so important to you some of our
patients can't make that decision. Many do smoke but should only
be given the option to stop when they are mentally stable and
back at home. Having what many see as their last freedom taken
away leaving them even more anxious and angry will make staff
less rather than more safe thus, resulting in a real risk of assault."
You and Yours Feedback
This particular programme promoted one of the
largest responses we have ever had on Call You and Yours.
Listeners seemed keen to be involved with a radio programme which
could potentially influence Government policy.