Smoking ban works in the workplace
10 June 2010
The ban on smoking came into effect in 2007 and this week research from the University of Bath suggests that the benefits of the smoking ban are becoming evident.
Back in 2004 The Work Foundation was asked to draft part of a Department of Health White Paper called Choosing Health. We had previously chaired a number of consultation meetings on the health of the workforce at which a number of eminent clinicians, researchers, patient groups and others had presented evidence. One of our recommendations was that further action be taken “to reduce and eventually eliminate smoking in the workplace.”
Recent evidence from the Royal College of Physicians had shown 700 deaths per week related to workplace secondary smoke compared to 226 deaths per year from workplace accidents. Smoking is also a source of significant health inequalities, with those on lower incomes more likely to smoke and suffer the consequences.
The study published this week suggests that there were 1,200 fewer hospital admissions for heart attacks in England in the year following the smoking ban in July 2007. This 2.4% drop was more modest than that reported in some areas where similar bans have been introduced but seems to have saved the NHS over £8m.
While there may be other factors involved in this reduction in admissions, it is clear that the reduction in the number of people routinely exposed to secondary smoke in their workplaces can only have positive health and productivity benefits.
While The Work Foundation can’t take all the credit for this, it does demonstrate that we can make a difference to both the climate of opinion and to important decisions which affect people’s lives at work.