Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420-431)|
ROGERS OBE, MR
24 NOVEMBER 2005
Q420 Dr Stoate: You will
have heard the question from Charlotte Atkins that one of the
Government's contentions is that smoking in public places is popular
and therefore should be allowed to continue. We understand ASH
has done a number of surveys gauging public opinion. Can you tell
us more about the results of your surveys?
Ms Arnott: It does depend a bit
how you word it. You get much more support if you ask people if
they support the idea that all workers should have a right to
a smoke-free workplace and the sort of level of support we got
for that was 90% of the public, whereas if you ask people whether
they support legislation to make all enclosed workplaces smoke
free it drops to around 80%. One of the things we would see interestingand
we have done a lot of public polling over the last couple of yearsis
the way that public opinion has begun to move on this and move
quite considerably, particularly on smoking in pubs and bars.
The Government in its smoking related behaviour and attitudes
survey in 2003 started asking the questions, "What sort of
restrictions would you support in pubs? Do you think pubs should
be allowed to be entirely smoking throughout, mainly smoking throughout
but partially smoke free, partially smoke free or entirely smoke
free?" In October/November 2003 20% only of the public wanted
pubs to be entirely smoke free. A year later, in 2004, that figure
rose to 31%. We asked the same question in August this year and
41% of the public supported pubs and bars being entirely smoke
free. When you gave people some peer reviewed evidence about the
harm caused by second-hand smoke that proportion rose to 52%,
the majority of the public wanting pubs and bars to be smoke free.
If you look at the difference between 2003 and 2005, not taking
into account what happens if you give people more information,
you are already seeing a doubling in the amount of support for
pubs and bars going entirely smoke free. I think the key point
there is not just the results but the speed and direction of change.
I do not think the Government has really taken account of the
fact that public opinion has moved significantly in support of
Q421 Dr Stoate: The industry
would say that you are an organisation dedicated to a reduction
in smoking and therefore "you would say that, wouldn't you".
How robust do you think your findings are?
Ms Arnott: We only use reputable
market research companies and sample sizes of 1,000 or above,
at which point the 95% confidence level is about 2-3%, which means
you are within 2-3% of public opinion, and it is representative
not just as regards demographics but also the split between smokers
and non-smokers. ONS do their survey with around 3,500 people
and it is a face-to-face survey. We repeated the ONS survey using
YouGov on the internet because we wanted people to be able to
separate out this question about whether they knew what the evidence
was and what your opinion was afterwards.
YouGov is widely regarded to be very robust. It was a sample of
2,200. If you look at the YouGov predictions of the general election,
for example, they were within 1% of the actual result.
Q422 Dr Stoate: You are
saying that your figures are pretty robust.
Ms Arnott: Yes, they are.
Q423 Dr Stoate: The evidence
we have had put to us by the hospitality industry is that they
have got data that says exactly the opposite to yours and their
surveys show that most people are not in favour of an outright
ban. How do we try and get to the real facts of this?
Ms Arnott: I think you have to
look at how the questions are framed and in what context. If you
look at the polls that have been done by the Tobacco Manufacturers
Organisation using populars, they tend to frame them in a very
different context in terms of actually saying "Do you think
this is an important issue?" or "Would it not be much
more important to do X?". I think you need to look at the
specific questions asked as well as the sample size and everything
else. The Tobacco Manufacturers Association wrote to MPs saying
that only 3% of the public supported completely smoke-free workplaces
in the last ONS survey done in 2004. They misquoted that survey
because it was only 3% of heavy smokers and the percentage at
that time of all the population was 31%.
Q424 Jim Dowd: They did
circulate a correction.
Ms Arnott: They did circulate
a correction, but I am not sure everyone would have seen that
Q425 Mike Penning: If
you saw the first one you will see the second.
Ms Arnott: Their misuse of statistics
is not effective. They only did that after the Department of Health
wrote to them. They were not going to do it on their own account.
Q426 Dr Stoate: The Government
has said that smoking is popular and therefore should be continued.
Would you say that the general public is in favour of an overall
ban or in favour of a partial ban? How would you see the public
Ms Arnott: When we are talking
about all workplaces, the majority are in favour. When you talk
about pubs and bars, it is moving and I think with the right information
the majority of the public will support it. It is not about public
opinion, this is about health and safety of workers and that is
the key point. However, popularity is important in determining
whether or not it is easily enforceable and seatbelt legislation
showed that. If you compare seatbelt legislation to mobile phones
and the fact you are not supposed to use your mobile phone driving
in the car, you can see what happens. What we want is legislation
that is easily enforceable. What the levels of public support
and the shift in public opinion shows is that this will be easily
Q427 Jim Dowd: Mr Gray,
you said there had been a universality of public health law previously
and that what the Government is proposing would breach that universality.
How does that apply to the exemptions for what are regarded as
domiciliary premises, ie homes, hotel rooms, etcetera, where people
will still have to work?
Mr Gray: The principle that we
have espoused in our submission to you is that the protection
of the worker should be paramount. So anywhere where there is
an exceptionand I am using the word exception, not exemption,
there are always exceptions to the rulesconsideration is
then given to how the worker can be protected either by minimising
exposure or affording direct protection to the worker. That is
what we do in all other work situations. Wherever we are unable
to totally eliminate the risk we protect the worker. There are
some practical measures. Some employers are already taking these.
They are asking people who are receiving services or treatments
in their home not to smoke while the worker is there or to keep
a room in which they do not smoke where the worker can go. I am
married to a health visitor. She always asks to check the baby
in a room where people do not smoke. She has a duty of care to
the child never mind a duty of care for her own health, and people
are cooperative, that is the other surprising thing, I think.
When we tell people this is about protecting the health of a worker
who is providing a service for you people are cooperative.
Q428 Jim Dowd: Everybody
accepts that self-enforcement is the most effective kind where
people are prepared to do it. There will be a different level
of protection for workers whose jobs take them into domestic premises,
hotels rooms, etcetera, compared to those who ought to be totally
protected if there was a total ban.
Mr Gray: There is a difference
in order of magnitude here. The bar workers who are working eight
or ten hour shifts in a perpetually smoky environment, these are
the people most at risk and we are failing to protect the most
vulnerable group. There is a difference in order of magnitude
between that and the peripatetic worker who will occasionally
be exposed to someone else's smoke and has the right either to
refuse the service and leave the building or to request some measure
Q429 Dr Naysmith: I want
to pick up on how questions are framed and what sort of answers
you get, Deborah, because really the questions determine quite
a lot what result you get. In sociology courses in universities
there are often units about how to frame questions and so on,
so it is quite difficult. However, we are beginning now in this
area to get nearer something that tells you clearly what is happening
by looking at changes over time and how views change. If you keep
asking almost the same questions then you can pick up changes
and opinions. How does the strength of public support in England
for a smoking ban compare with other countries such as Ireland
before a ban was introduced, and after the ban is introduced what
kind of changes do you get in the opinions?
Ms Arnott: I think that is a very
interesting question. We asked a question earlier this year in
July using BMRB which had been asked in Ireland before their law
was brought in, which was, "Do you support legislation to
prohibit smoking in public places, including pubs and restaurants?"
When they asked it in Ireland prior to the legislation coming
in the level of support was 67%. When we asked it here in July
the level of support was 73%. I think the interesting point about
Ireland as well is that if you look at what happened when they
brought the legislation in, the level of support continued to
grow. So three months after the legislation was brought in the
Irish Department of Health asked the same question again and 82%
of the population supported the legislation.
Q430 Dr Naysmith: What
happens amongst smokers if you ask that question in Ireland, do
you have any statistics on that?
Ms Arnott: There was some interesting
research done in an international tobacco study using a phone
poll of respondents in Ireland and I cannot remember the exact
figures, I will have to send them to you afterwards, but the level
of support amongst smokers for legislation, including pubs and
bars, was only about 3% prior to the legislation coming in and
it rose to around 50% after it had come in.
It is still not the majority of them, but you can hardly expect
smokers to support something which stops them smoking in pubs
and bars. The level of support has gone up considerably. I have
been to Ireland and I have spent quite a lot of time talking to
smokers sat outside pubs about what they thought of the legislation.
The sorts of things people said to me were, "I'm not very
happy me with it but, thinking about it, I am smoking less now
and smoking is not very healthy for you. The atmosphere inside
the pub is much better than it was." So there are mixed and
conflicting views even among smokers themselves.
Dr Naysmith: We got similar
opinions from some smokers when we were in Dublin as well.
Q431 Chairman: Do you
think we could expect to see further movement in public opinion
in this country if the legislation had gone through Parliament
and there was a date set for its implementation, no matter what
form it is in?
Ms Arnott: I certainly think we
can. I think it is terribly important that the Government takes
a lead in saying, "This is a measure being brought in for
workers' protection," and if they do that the level of support
will rise and it will continue to increase because there is no
argument against that. The problem is it is very confusing. The
message they are giving out is that it is not really a health
and safety issue because they are going to leave the workers who
are currently most exposed to continue to be exposed in future.
There is something very important I know this Committee is concerned
about and that is what happens to smoking in the home in front
of children. If you give this confused message that it is okay
to carry on smoking because, after all, we are allowing pubs to
be places where you can smoke, the message you are giving to parents
about what they should be doing in front of their children is
mixed and confusing. The message we want to give to them is that
this is harmful and if we do that and we make it a uniform policy
outside the home it will lead to a reduced exposure of children
inside the home, partly because many of their parents will be
giving up smoking but also because those who carry on smokingand
we have seen this in Ireland and in this country as more and more
workplaces have gone smoke freewill stand outside to smoke
rather than smoking inside the home.
Chairman: Could I thank you all very
much indeed for coming along and helping us with this inquiry.
Hopefully we will have it published in time to go into one or
two people's Christmas stockings.
1 Ms Arnott later informed the Committee that this
enabled them to ensure that the respondents were not able to see
the information until after they had been asked the question the
first time and that they were able to read the information rather
than just have it read out to them. Back
Ms Arnott later informed the Committee the actual figures were
13% before and 46% afterwards from Fong et al, Reductions
in tobacco smoke pollution and increases in support for smoke-free
public places following the implementation of comprehensive smoke-free
workplace legislation in the Republic of Ireland: findings from
the ITC Ireland/UK survey Tobacco Control 2005;000:1-8. Back