What Did The Smoke Free Law Become Active
From Sundaythe 1st July 2007 the Smoke Free law came into play with individuals and businesses being liable for penalties if found breaking the rules from that date onwards.
Why Was the Smoke Free legislation introduced?
The harmful effects of second hand cigarette smoke have been well documented. This legislation was introduced in order to protect individuals from these effects in public places, their place of work and on vehicles such as public transport.
How Exactly Does the Smoke Free Law Work
This legislation dictates where people may smoke and where they may not. The majority of enclosed spaces and vehicles used by the public, included their place of work was affected.
As a result of the legislation being introduced:
- No-one may smoke in any of the identified public places
- Anyone who manages or owns premises or offers transport (work or public) is responsible for ensuring their environment is smoke-free
- It is illegal to not display the appropriate no smoking signage.
What are the Effects of Second Hand Smoke?
Scientific evidence (produced via the government independent Scientific Committee of Tobacco and Health) resulted in reports being released back in 2005 which proved that second hand smoke may contribute to or even cause conditions such as:
- A reduced lung function
- Heart disease
- SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)
- Lung Cancers
In addition to this the Surgeon General in the US has made it clear that second hand smoke:
- Increases the instances of premature death in both adults and children who don’t themselves smoke
- That minors who are exposed to second hand smoke are more likely to suffer with ear concerns, severe asthma (including increased symptoms when already diagnosed as asthmatic), serious respiratory infections and are at a greater risk of being victims of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- That parents who smoke around their children contribute to or directly cause a number of respiratory illnesses and may decrease the rate of lung growth.
- That no scientific data to date concludes that second hand smoke at any level of exposure is risk-free.
In addition to the General Surgeon’s findings WHO (The World Health Organisation) has confirmed that have formally classified second hand smoke as a carcinogen.
Second hand smoke also rates as an A Class human carcinogen (others in this group include asbestos arsenic and radon) according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
What Types of Smoking Does the Law Include
Anything that is smoked and includes tobacco or any other substance that is burned and inhaled falls under the scope of the legislation. This includes anything from hand rolled cigarettes, manufactured cigarettes (tobacco cigarettes), smoking pipes, herbal cigarettes and even water pipes.
Has This Legislation Negatively Impacted Those Involved in the Hospitality Industry
There is no evidence to suggest that any countries which have introduced the same or similar smoke free laws that England has have suffered any negative impact on their business. This is particularly true in the circumstances where businesses have prepared for the introduction of the ban by, for example, providing a sheltered (yet not enclosed) outdoor smoking area.
Indeed a piece in the 2006 edition of the British Institute of Inn Keeping magazine (printed before the law came into effect) reported that a representative of the trade felt that as it was already a scientific fact at that point that second hand smoke was harmful that those in the industry should be moving to ban smoking in and around their premises.
Is There Evidence That Going Smoke Free May Actually Benefit Businesses?
There is actually a significant amount of data which supports the notion that going smoke free has and will continue to have a positive impact in businesses. For example:
- Mitchells and Butlers (a successful pub chain in Scotland) reported an increase of 11% in food order revenue after the Scottish smoke free legislation came into play
- A report in The Times concluded in October 2006 that those English pubs at the time who had pro-actively chosen to go smoke free ahead of the ban were seeing overall profits soar as much as 50% and food sales as much as 80%.
- A study coming out of Dundee University showed that club, pub and bar workers tested before the smoke free laws were introduced and then again two months after showed an improvement in lung function and a decrease in the symptoms previously experienced which were attributed to second hand smoke exposure.
What Successes have Other Countries With Smoke Free Legislation Reported
There is a higher global awareness than ever before of the dangers of smoking, including “passive” smoking which is where individuals are exposed to second hand smoke. As a result of this many more countries around the world have introduced smoke free legislation of their own.
Comprehensive smoke free laws were passed by New Zealand, Ireland, Norway and Scotland between 2004 and 2006 and America has been particularly proactive with regardless to passing smoking laws. Indeed a number of Australian, Canadian and American states now operate under smoke free law in the same way that England does.
The benefits to these countries of introducing these smoke free laws have all been similar to those reported in the American Journal of Medical Association, namely that there was “rapid and significant improvement” in the respiratory health of those working in the hospitality industry (those working in pubs and bars specifically) after the bans were introduced.
For Those Looking to Give up Smoking There is Support Available
Giving up smoking without support is an incredibly difficult thing however the NHS offer support in a number of ways. Access to local NHS Stop Smoking services, Nicotine Replacement Therapy (patches, gums, tablets etc) and more are offered alongside support from trained professionals.
Employers who would like to help their employees quit smoking or have literature on hand to offer staff may themselves find out more via the NHS Go Smoke Free website or by calling the NHS Stop Smoking helpline.