Time to put an end to passive smoking
Do you ever wake up with a sore throat or a hacking cough after an evening shift? If so, you could be feeling the effects of passive smoking. Breathing in other people's smoke can cause cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness, meaning that every day you work in a smoky environment you increase the risk of damaging your health.
The Government's chief medical officer reported this year that "clearing the air of second-hand cigarette smoke in... enclosed public places would protect the health of both workers and customers in these environments". And the British Medical Association has estimated that the chances of developing heart disease or lung cancer increase by approximately a third for non-smokers working in a smoky environment.
Now, in an exclusive poll of a thousand Caterer
readers, 95% of respondents said they believed working in a smoky atmosphere damaged their health; and 57% said they had already noticed side-effects from working in a smoky environment.
That's why Caterer
this week launches our Stub out Smoking campaign, calling for a total ban on smoking in the UK workplace.
We have long lobbied for industry self-regulation over smoking. But, faced with such a groundswell of feeling among our readership, we feel we can no longer sit on the fence. The "courtesy of choice" approach adopted by many bars and restaurants may allow customers to choose whether or not to sit in a designated smoking area; but it does nothing to save hospitality workers from breathing in harmful smoke.
It's not only employees who would benefit from a ban. Operators currently spend precious time and money introducing non-smoking areas and installing air-purifying systems. A ban would make such efforts unnecessary, and create a level playing field for doing business. It would guard them against the potential threat of litigation from employees claiming they have become sick as a result of passive smoking. And, our survey suggests, it would even help ease the skills problem in hospitality. (Three-quarters of respondents said a company's anti-smoking policy would make it a more attractive employer.)
There is another, more practical, reason for embracing a smoking ban. The Government is already exploring the pros and cons of outlawing smoking. It is therefore essential that operators pull their heads out of the sand and join the consultation process that would precede any legislation. Failure to do so could result in legislation that is timetabled, implemented and policed to their detriment.
Below, you'll find details of how you can support our Stub out Smoking campaign. We call on you to join us in campaigning for a ban on smoking in the workplace. Your health could depend upon it.
Mark Lewis, Editor, Caterer & Hotelkeeper
Talking Point: We asked for your views on the smoking debate. Click here to read the responses.
For more on the campaign, click on the links below:
Caterer calls time on smoking
Caterer's exclusive smoking survey
Over to You
No ifs or butts
Sign up for our campaign
Caterer needs your help to campaign for a smoking ban in all UK pubs, clubs, restaurants and hotels. We want you to support our campaign by filling out our petition, which asks the Government to commit in principle to an outright ban on smoking in the workplace.
We also want to hear from companies and employers that are already taking steps to ban smoking in their operations and wish to see the industry consulted on when a smoking ban would be implemented and how it would be policed. Some have already pledged their support to our campaign.
A spokesman for pub company JD Wetherspoon said it supported Caterer's position. "We called for an outright ban by January 2006 - we wouldn't do it on our own as this would be commercial suicide - but if the Government bans it we would all be on a level playing field," he said.
Others have also backed our stance. Michelin-starred Chez Bruce in Wandsworth, London, along with its sister restaurants La Trompette and the Glasshouse, took the step earlier this year.
Chef-proprietor Bruce Poole backs Caterer's campaign. "I'd love to see more restaurants do it, but it does take balls," he said. "It's been brilliant for us and we haven't regretted it for a moment. We're delighted."
Tom Aikens, whose Michelin-starred London restaurant introduced a no-smoking policy earlier this year, gave Caterer's campaign the thumbs-up too. "When we first changed to non-smoking we were surprised, as we really didn't get any bad comments about the policy," he said. "If anything, the feedback was positive."
London's oldest restaurant, Rules, which is also a no-smoking venue, is behind Caterer's campaign. A spokesman said: "The move hasn't affected business. We would be in favour of legal enforcement as it would improve working conditions."
Go on... take your head out of the sand and back our campaign to ban smoking in the workplace by signing our petition and we'll lobby the Government to Stub Out Smoking.
|to download the Campaign Petition form.
Please complete the form and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or post to Stub Out Smoking, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, FREEPOST (CN2908), Quadrant House, The Quadrant, Sutton, Surrey SM2 5BR. Should you wish to withhold your address, please sign the letter and attach your address on a separate sheet.