UCL News


UCL in the News: Going for smoke: Today's ban is just the start. Could your home be next?

1 July 2007

The Government's top smoking adviser is calling for a new government tobacco task force that can identify anyone who still dares to puff away in apparent privacy and persuade, cajole or bully them into quitting.

"We can apply powerful social pressure on parents not to smoke in the house. It must be completely taboo for parents to smoke indoors when there are children present," said Professor Robert West [UCL Epidemiology & Public Health]. "We're talking about thousands of children whose health is adversely affected by passive smoking." …

Today … the biggest smoking ban anywhere in the world will affect 3.7 million businesses, including 200,000 pubs, bars and restaurants. …

But in every revolution there are losers - and this time the miserable ones will be those who have failed or refuse to give up, despite the hugely expensive campaigns and legislation aimed at getting them to do so. …

But they will not even be able to retreat to the living room if Professor West gets his way. The man behind the NHS's stop smoking campaign is urging ministers to take the hardest of lines. "Society has to wake up to this problem and deal with it," he said.

Every year 17,000 under-fives are admitted to hospital suffering from the effects of passive smoking. And of the 12,000 deaths from the same cause each year, only 500 are from exposure to smoke in the workplace. Respiratory diseases such as asthma and pneumonia are far more common in children who have a parent who smokes. They are three times more likely to develop lung cancer in later life than children of non-smokers.

"The jury is still out on whether more will stop smoking at home," said Professor West, who is not convinced by the Department of Health's hope of a knock-on effect. "My own view is that the ban will make little difference one way or the other." …

Jonathan Owen, 'Independent on Sunday'