Memorandum by Smoke Free Liverpool (WP
SmokeFree Liverpool is a partnership which comprises
Central, North and South Primary Care Trusts, Liverpool City Council,
the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, Liverpool Chamber of Commerce,
North West TUC, Health@Work, Scarman Trust and Liverpool Health
Our aim is to restrict smoking in all enclosed
workplaces in Liverpoolfor the benefit of all who live
and work in Liverpool. As you may know, Liverpool City Councillors
voted in October by an overwhelming cross-party majority to seek
the powers to restrict smoking in enclosed workplaces places,
by a local Act of Parliament. This cross-party majority vote was
confirmed by a further vote on the 26 January.
Smokefree Liverpool welcomes the Health Select
Committee's Inquiry into the Government's White Paper on Public
Health and is pleased to submit written evidence.
Will the proposals enable the Government to achieve
its public health goals?
1. We congratulate the Government on the
White Paper's proposal for workplaces to be free of second hand
tobacco smoke. Smoking is the major cause of preventable death
in our city. We are also deeply concerned by the serious health
and safety risk other people's smoke poses to employees and the
general public, particularly but not exclusively in the hospitality
trades. The White Paper offers a golden chance to provide protection
to non-smokers and to achieve a sharp cut in smoking prevalence
2. However, we believe that the Government
has missed an opportunity to save lives by not imposing a complete
ban in all workplaces, including pubs and private clubs. Smoke
Free Liverpool does not believe that it can be acceptable for
a worker in a non food pub or private members club to suffer the
damaging effects of second hand tobacco smoke. We believe the
evidence on the harmful effects of second hand smoke is clear
and we note the comments of the Chief Medical Officer to this
effect. We also note that the report of the Scientific Committee
on Tobacco and Health, whose report was published alongside the
White Paper, identified bar workers as the occupational group
at most risk from other people's smoke. In Liverpool, people frequently
do not have a choice about where they work and employees in exempted
premises would therefore be exposed against their will and they
will continue to suffer the same health inequalities.
3. Smoke Free Liverpool are concerned that
the proposals in the White paper will actually contribute to widening
health inequalities both locally and nationally and for Liverpool
we believe that these proposals will be a disaster.
Are the proposals appropriate, effective and do
they represent value for money?
4. The Government has failed to act on the
conclusions of the report it commissioned from the Scientific
Committee on Tobacco & Health (SCOTH), which was published
at the same time as the White Paper, these are:
"knowledge of the hazardous nature of second-hand
smoke (SHS) has consolidated over the last five years, and this
evidence strengthens earlier estimates of the size of the health
"This is a controllable and preventable
form of indoor air pollution."
"It is evident that no infant, child or
adult should be exposed to SHS".
"This update confirms that SHS represent
a substantial public health hazard."
5. The proposal to prohibit smoking in the
"bar area" of exempted pubs cannot provide adequate
protection for employees or members of the public. Smoke cannot
be confined to one area of a pub. Ventilation systems are expensive
and at best only partly effective. We believe it would be cause
significant economic damage in Liverpool if hospitality venues
were required to install expensive and inefficient systems of
this kind. The proposed exemptions would add unnecessarily to
the regulatory burden on business. A comprehensive end to smoking
in all workplaces and enclosed public places would be simpler,
cheaper and more effective.
6. We believe that most pubs in Liverpool,
which may be covered by the proposed exemptions, will be in poorer
communities. These communities will have higher than average smoking
prevalence rates and largely as a result will be at the wrong
end of sharp health inequalities. Liverpool has the highest lung
cancer rates in England. The communities where those rates are
highest are those in which the vast majority of pubs do not serve
prepared food. SmokeFree Liverpool is currently undertaking a
piece of research in conjunction with Liverpool John Moores University
to provide clear evidence that this is the case.
7. The social and economic costs of smoking
in Liverpool are unacceptably high:
Smoking prevalence in Liverpool is
well above the national averageat 34%.
Around 1,000 people in Liverpool
die each year from smoking.
Around 100 people in Liverpool who
have never smoked, die each year from cancer or heart disease
because of exposure to second-hand smoke.
Smoking costs the NHS in Liverpool
about £12.7 million per annum.
The economic costs to employers of
smoking amongst the Liverpool workforce is approximately £28.5
million per annum.
8. There is strong support across the city
for smokefree legislation: 71% of people in Liverpool stated that
they would support or strongly support a law to make all enclosed
workplaces smokefreeincluding restaurants and pubs.
Does the necessary public health infrastructure
and mechanisms exist to ensure that the proposals will be implemented
and goals achieved?
9. The proposals in the White Paper give
no clear definition for "pubs that serve food", would
be extremely difficult to enforce and leave many opportunities
for loopholes to be found. The Chartered Institute of Environmental
Health has judged the Government's proposals to be unenforceable
and contrary to the principles of health and safety legislation.
10. The goal of reducing health inequalities
cannot be achieved unless the proposals are amended to include
legislation to make all workplaces smoke free including those
pubs that do not serve food and all private clubs. Indeed health
inequalities in cities like Liverpool can only be increased.
11. While SmokeFree Liverpool welcomes the
Government's proposals, we must continue to pursue a Local Act
of Parliament to ensure all workers in Liverpool are protected.
As our understanding is that other cities are considering the
same legislative route, we urge the Government to reconsider and
strengthen its proposals.
12. We ask the Committee to urge the Government
to include a commitment to legislate to prohibit smoking in all
workplaces in the United Kingdom in its first legislative programme
after the General Election.