Over the last few weeks, Michael Fabricant has been receiving many emails and letters from constituents – many of whom are GPs – demanding an all-out smoking ban in public places. Michael, who is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Smoking and Health, says "I share most of the sentiments expressed in these letters though I believe that in the case of private members’ clubs it should be up to the members to decide whether there should be no ban, a partial ban, or a full ban on smoking on the premises".
The text of the emails and letters are virtually the same and are as follows:-
"I urge the Government to introduce a comprehensive ban on smoking in enclosed public places so that all workers can be protected from the damaging effects of second-hand smoke.
The Government’s recent White Paper on Public Health proposes the introduction of smokefree public places by 2008, but exempts around 11,000 pubs and 24,000 private members’ clubs.
These exemptions would leave many thousands of workers exposed to second-hand smoke, a proven carcinogen. The Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health reported in 2004 that non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke face a 24% increased risk of lung cancer and a 25% increased risk of heart disease. The Committee also revealed strong evidence linking second-hand smoke to an increased risk of a range of illnesses including asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Ireland has shown that comprehensive smokefree legislation can work. The Scottish Parliament has voted to make all Scottish workplaces smokefree without exception and the Welsh Assembly has voted in principle to do the same. The Government should follow their example – partial measures risk confusing the public, would be more difficult to enforce than a comprehensive ban and would create an unequal system where thousands of workers are denied the rights offered to the rest of the workforce.
Public opinion continues to shift, with more people than ever now supporting smokefree public places for all. Evidence from Ireland also shows that smokefree legislation becomes more popular after its successful introduction.
I believe that everyone has the same right to breathe clean air and to be protected from second-hand smoke."
Michael now says: "I would be interested to know the general views of my constituents and ask that they write in to their local newspapers, as well as to me, so that we can all gauge public opinion on this controversial subject."