One bartender, waiter or club worker dies every week from tobacco smoke breathed in during the course of their work, according to figures released today.



One bartender, waiter or club worker dies every week from tobacco smoke breathed in during the course of their work, according to figures released today.

Passive smoking is estimated to cause at least 49 deaths a year among those working in the hospitality industry, twice as many as die in this group from exposure to smoke in the home.

The figures have been calculated by Professor Konrad Jamrozik, from Imperial College London, based on the number of employees in the hospitality industry, their exposure to tobacco smoke and their likely risk of dying as a result. They are being revealed today at a conference organised by the Royal College of Physicians as part of its campaign to ban smoking in public.

Overall, Professor Jamrozik estimates that 700 people die due to environmental smoke in the workplace each year in Britain. The college says this is unacceptable and could be "completely prevented" if all indoor public places and workplaces were declared smoke free.

The British Medical Association, the chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, and campaign groups such as Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) have all backed calls for a public smoking ban. But the Government has so far resisted calls to introduce a total ban on smoking in enclosed public places, despite growing evidence of the risks.

Professor Carol Black, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "Environmental tobacco smoke in pubs, bars, restaurants and other public places is seriously damaging to the health of employees. Making these places smoke free not only protects vulnerable staff and the public, it will also help over 300,000 people in Britain to stop smoking."

Professor Jamrozik also calculated that at least 3,600 people under 65 died each year from lung cancer, heart disease and stroke caused by passive smoking at home. Past estimates have suggested second-hand smoke kills about 1,000 people a year in the UK, but the college said the new figure was a more accurate estimate. The royal college wants to dispel the idea that little harm is caused by passive smoking.

Forest, the smokers' lobby group, questioned the new figures. Its director, Simon Clark, said: "Once again we are presented with estimates. Where is the hard evidence that passive smoking is killing people?"

Deborah Arnott, director of ASH, said the figures showed "the bankruptcy of the hospitality trade bodies' voluntary approach".

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