The creation and maintenance of smoke-free public spaces in the UK

WHO tobacco

WHO: E-cigarette. (UN News, 2014)

This article was exclusively written for The Sting by Ms. Caitlin Pley, a 5th year medical student at the University of Cambridge. She is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA). However, the opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Tobacco is the deadliest legally available consumer product, killing up to two thirds of its long-term users1. Another huge, yet frequently overlooked, tragedy is the mortality and morbidity caused by exposure to second-hand smoke. Around 890000 people die a year from second-hand smoke2, with women and children suffering disproportionately3.

A problem as pervasive, and dangerous, as tobacco addiction requires international collaboration. In an increasingly globalised world, trade liberalisation and the power of social media allow the tobacco industry to spread its scourge to all corners of the world. To this end, in 2003, the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) became the first legally binding treaty negotiated under the auspices of the World Health Organization4. Article 8.2 of the FCTC calls for Parties to adopt national law that prohibits smoking in indoor workplaces, public transport, indoor public spaces and, as appropriate, other public spaces4. Tobacco-free public spaces are recognised as a crucially important tobacco control measure, not just due to harm reduction for non-smokers, but also because the policy decreases the daily consumption of smokers, and dismantles the normalised status of smoking in society.

The FCTC has been widely incorporated into European law. The European Council has issued a ‘Recommendation on smoke-free environments’ which aims to strengthen comprehensive smoke-free legislation, as well as foster cooperation, amongst EU countries5. In the UK, a right to smoke in public, or private, has never existed6. The four devolved countries each have their own pieces of law covering smoke-free spaces. Scotland’s Smoking, Health and Social Care Act entered into force in 2006, while England’s Health Act, Northern Ireland’s Smoking Order and Wales’ Smoke-Free Regulations entered into force in 2007.

In the UK, there exists a total ban on smoking in the workplace, enclosed public places, restaurants, bars, healthcare facilities, education facilities and public transport7. These provisions are some of the strictest in Europe, and are unlikely to change following the UK’s exit from the European Union, given that these laws were adopted years before the EU council recommendation on smoke-free environments, and given the UK’s recent moves to adopt even stronger tobacco control measures such as plain packaging.

The law on smoke-free public spaces in the UK is enforced through sanctions, either a fixed penalty notice or a court-issued fine, both for the offence of smoking in a smoke-free place and for failing to display the required no-smoking signs in these locations7. However, although compliance with the law is excellent in workplaces, bars and restaurants, it is largely disobeyed in other public, particularly unenclosed, areas. Furthermore, while law enforcement officers are able to issue penalties for these offences, this often does not happen, partly due to a lack of evidence were the case to be tried in court, partly due to the offence not being regarded as serious enough to warrant the penalty.

Unaddressed, the tobacco epidemic will claim the lives of one billion individuals in the 21st century8. To help kick tobacco to the curb, we need to kick smoking off our streets.

References:

  1. Banks E, Joshy G, Weber MF, et al. Tobacco smoking and all-cause mortality in a large Australian cohort study: findings from a mature epidemic with current low smoking prevalence. BMC Med. 2015;13(1):38. doi:10.1186/s12916-015-0281-z
  2. Tobacco Fact Sheet. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/tobacco. Published September 2018.
  3. Lipetz S. Smoking and Disease Factsheet.; 2016.
  4. WHO FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL WHO Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data. 2010. http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/42811/1/9241591013.pdf?ua=1. Accessed February 22, 2018.
  5. Council Recommendation of 30 November 2009.; 2009. https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32009H1205(01)&from=EN. Accessed October 23, 2018.
  6. Allen N. A human right to smoke? Has the government struck the right balance between the freedom of smokers and the welfare of non-smokers? New Law Journal. https://www.newlawjournal.co.uk/content/human-right-smoke. Published 2008. Accessed October 23, 2018.
  7. Overview of smoke-free legislation and its implementation in the EU. European Commission. https://ec.europa.eu/health/sites/health/files/tobacco/docs/smoke-free_legislation_overview_en.pdf. Accessed October 24, 2018.
  8. The global tobacco crisis Tobacco – global agent of death. WHO Rep Glob Tob EPIDEMIC. 2008. http://www.who.int/tobacco/mpower/mpower_report_tobacco_crisis_2008.pdf. Accessed February 26, 2018.

About the author

Caitlin Pley is a 5th year medical student at the University of Cambridge, originally from Germany and resident in the United Kingdom for the past seven years. In her free time, she advocates for health equity and health in all policies at the local, national and international levels. She is particularly interested in non-communicable diseases, especially tobacco control policy, access to medicines and access to reproductive healthcare services.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Join the Hive!

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

EU countries invested €5 trillion abroad

4 bold new ways New York is going clean and green

MEPs urge EU states to ensure better care of transported animals

EU agrees on Ukraine – Georgia visa-free travel amid veto risks and populist fears

UN rights expert calls for end to ‘purgatory’ of ‘international inaction’ facing Myanmar’s remaining Rohingya

More state aid to big firms, no special provisions for the SMEs

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Argentina Accepts KP Amendment

10 Downing street: Another desperate attempt to unite Britain on Brexit

Do all you can to resolve climate change ‘sticking points’ UN chief urges South-East Asian leaders, in Bali

US and China in painstaking efforts to conclude trade talks

Afghanistan: Bring ‘architects’ of latest ‘appalling’ suicide bombing to justice, says deputy UN mission chief

European Parliament speaks out against “killer robots”

Alexandre in Czech Republic

China Unlimited Special Report: The trip to China

Sustainable development demands a broader vision, says new OECD Development Centre report

A Europe that protects: EU customs seized over 31 million fake goods at EU borders in 2017

Security Council urges countries to factor child protection into conflict prevention efforts

Post-Brexit muddled times: the resignation of UK’s top ambassador and Theresa May’s vague plans

European Youth Capital 2019 announced: Novi Sad, Serbia

We could be sleepwalking into a new crisis. How should the business world prepare?

An economist explains why women are paid less

Erdogan vies to become Middle East Sultan over Khashoggi’s killing

UN postal agency ‘regrets’ US withdrawal

EU invests in green projects and bans single-use plastics while climate change requires more to be done

The West and Russia accomplished the dismembering and the economic destruction of Ukraine

Four lessons from Africa on building effective business ecosystems

Tax revenues continue increasing as the tax mix shifts further towards corporate and consumption taxes

A young European voice on Grexit: too high a bill and too big a deal!

Czech Babis, Austrian Kurz and others threaten Europe with nationalist populism

What is the IMF telling Eurozone about fiscal and banking unification?

Climate Change: a challenge yet to be tackled in medical schools

MWC 2016 LIVE: T-Mobile US reveals 5G trial plans

Quicker freezing and confiscation of criminal assets in the EU

Human rights: breaches in Russia, the Rakhine State and Bahrain

The ECB still protects the banks at the expense of the EU taxpayers

3 vital steps to a new gender equality playbook

Main results of Foreign Affairs EU Council, 16/07/2018

Two States ‘side-by-side’ is the ‘peaceful and just solution’ for Israel-Palestine conflict: Guterres

6 young leaders who are improving the state of the world on International Youth Day

EU budget: Boosting cooperation between tax and customs authorities for a safer and more prosperous EU

Why feeding the planet doesn’t have to mean sacrificing our forests

Brexit uncertainty keeps shaking the world’s financial markets

Is there a chance for the West to win the war on terror?

The future of international election observation missions

In polarized America, a new divide looms

Our poisonous air is harming our children’s brains

Sponsored content: when QUALITY meets OPEX in manufacturing

Why cities hold the key to safe, orderly migration

Employment MEPs want to ensure more flexibility and clarity for EU mobile workers

Britain offers more money for an orderly Brexit but the Irish question resurges

A ‘charismatic leader’ dedicated to making the world a better place for all: officials bid farewell to former UN chief Kofi Annan

How cultural understanding can help in the cultural shock

The EU Commission lets money market funds continue the unholy game of banks

EU’s judicial cooperation arm, Eurojust, to become more effective with new rules

Who will win the AI race? If countries work together, then the answer could be all of us

UN calls for funds to ease ‘deteriorating’ humanitarian situation in Gaza and West Bank

How leaders can use ‘agile governance’ to drive tech and win trust

VW diesel scandal and climate change: can increased independent car checks lead to cleaner mobility?

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

UN envoy ‘encouraged’ by latest talks on avoiding ‘worst-case scenario’ in Syria’s Idlib

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s