Smoking kills about 120,000 people each year in the United Kingdom. The human and societal cost of this is enormous, and the Government has announced that it intends to introduce a package of measures both to persuade current smokers to give it up, and to discourage non-smokers from starting in the first place. Passive smoking 'inhaling other people's tobacco smoke' is a particular issue for the workplace.
This Consultative Document asks for your views on whether we should take further action to encourage employers to improve employees' health and welfare at work by reducing their exposure to environmental tobacco smokeÑand if the answer is "yes", how best to do it. In Northern Ireland, the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland will be undertaking a similar exercise.
The Health and Safety Commission (HSC) recognises that the proposals in this document could be seen as limiting personal choice of the public as well as workers. The Office for National Statistics recently found that 84% of people said they would support restrictions on smoking at work. However, the survey did not examine what kind of restrictions people would be prepared to see, nor how they would be enforced. For example, only 51% of people were willing to see restrictions on smoking in pubs, even though these are workplaces for the bar staff. In many cases where we consult on proposals such as this, it may be assumed that the provision or something quite similar is highly likely to be introduced eventually. The consultation is often a fine-tuning exercise. That is not necessarily the case for this consultation. We are not sure to what extent people will support these proposals. We will decide whether or not to introduce an Approved Code of Practice according to the reasoned responses we receive.