The chief executive of QUIT, Steve Crone
You obviously welcome the smoking ban , but what anti-smoking legislation should the Government prioritise next?
The priority for the Government now should be to develop a comprehensive new National Tobacco Strategy in line with the WHO frameworks.
This should draw on effective models that have proved to work in California and Australia.
The strategy must include the mass media to encourage people to quit.
On top of that, the NHS stop-smoking programme should be devloped further to help them to do so. Realprice tax increases will be also needed.
Is the Government doing enough to help people quit?
The Government has made real progress with its media campaigns and NHS stop-smoking services, but it needs to invest more to further reduce smoking uptake.
As for getting people to quit, telephone counselling is a proven and very cost-effective intervention which should be introduced as a priority and made readily accessible to all smokers wanting to quit.
In your experience, how strong is the drinking/smoking link? Do you think the ban will encourage social smokers to stub out for good?
So many of our Quitline callers have told us that their attempt to quit has been undermined by being tempted to smoke when they have a drink in the pub, and so we are hopeful.
Are the advertising restrictions on tobacco companies tight enough to include new media?
The growth in smoking images appearing in the new media is a matter of real concern, particularly in view of the young audience. Greater regulation is needed here.
Should the smoking age be raised?
The Government has already said it will raise the minimum age to buy tobacco from 16 to 18. This is a positive move but will need to be properly enforced to have an impact on young people’s smoking.
What’s the single most important piece of advice you have for someone giving up smoking?
Ring the Quitline on 0800 00 22 00 and speak to a trained QUIT counsellor for friendly help and advice.
Deborah Arnott, director of ASH (Action on Smoking and Health)
Will pubs suffer from the ban?
Most employers will benefit when workplaces become smoke free. It will make it much easier for smokers to quit and – as smokers take on average almost two weeks more sick leave every year – fewer smokers will mean fewer sick days.
Big Tobacco is generally behind research suggesting a harmful economic impact. In fact, one published review could not find a single peerreviewed study showing a negative impact that was clearly independent of the industry. Since fewer than one in four adults smoke it is unlikely that the ban will harm even the pub trade, and while alcohol sales may go down, food sales generally go up enough to compensate.
But won’t ethnic minorities take the brunt? The Government has effectively outlawed shisha bars.
Shisha or waterpipe smoking has been made out to be pretty harmless and including it in the law has been said to be culturally insensitive. In actual fact, shisha smoking is at least as harmful as smoking, producing up to 200 times as much secondhand smoke as cigarettes, and experts from the across the Middle East have urged us to apply the same rules to shisha as we apply to other kinds of smoking.
Won’t smokers just smoke more at home? Isn’t that bad for children?
This one keeps coming up but, what research exists points the opposite direction. The Royal College of Physicians publication, Going Smokefree: the medical case for clean air in the home, at work and in public places, shows that in the UK smoking in the home would be likely to fall not rise after smoke-free workplace legislation is introduced. This is because many smokers quit when such laws are introduced, and others get the message that secondhand smoke isn’t just a nuisance, it’s a hazard. In New York, the number of people exposed to secondhand smoke at home tumbled when the city went smoke free.
The Government has spent millions on special smoking police to implement the ban. Is this as a good use of money?
Enforcing the new law will, by and large, be done by Environmental Health Officers. They already have powers to inspect and gather evidence; that’s one of the reasons they were given the extra duties. There’s a standard deal that goes, if national government government gives new responsibilities to local government it has to pay for them to be implemented and that only seems fair. The actual cost is less than £5 per business, which is not a lot overall.
Most of that is to set the system up in the first year. It’s not an ongoing cost.
Why should we go smoke free when MPs and peers will be allowed to smoke?
I’m afraid that is just a myth. The legal status of the Palace of Westminster means that a separate decision has to be made to apply laws like this. That has already been done, much to the relief of many of the people who work in Parliament. So Parliament is going smoke free, just like all other enclosed public places in the UK.
Now the entire UK is going smoke free hasn’t the work of organisations like ASH finished?
No, the smoking ban was about protecting the health of workers, not about stopping people smoking.
More than one in four smoke and half of them will die from their habit, killing around 100,000 smokers each year. Only a small proportion of smokers will quit because of the ban so our work helping smokers to quit needs to continue. Smoking will carry on being the major preventable cause of premature death and the main cause of health inequalities in our society for many years to come.