Remove hazards and make pupils safe

How Britain can tackle a growing menace: <i>The Independent on Sunday</i> launches its manifesto
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Indy Lifestyle Online

The Independent on Sunday began its asthma campaign only three weeks ago, but it has already produced some remarkable results. Asthma has become the subject of public debate again since we published new evidence that car fumes can cause the asphyxiating disease that is choking Britain.

The Independent on Sunday began its asthma campaign only three weeks ago, but it has already produced some remarkable results. Asthma has become the subject of public debate again since we published new evidence that car fumes can cause the asphyxiating disease that is choking Britain.

We set out to get politicians to take asthma seriously, and Michael Meacher, the Environment minister, took our campaign to Brussels, where the European Commission promised to review anti-pollution measures. We wanted more than a third of schools to have a clear idea on how to deal with, and prevent, asthma attacks in the classroom. As a result of our campaign Estelle Morris, Secretary of State for Education, will tomorrow instruct every head teacher in Britain to adopt such a policy.

We said doctors were failing to get the right information across to patients, and Yvette Cooper, the Public Health minister, has included asthma in the new child health service framework, setting out guidance to GPs.

Your letters and emails, which came in droves, helped us produce the 10-point asthma campaign manifesto detailed below. Some of its aims are long-term, and the fight to make them reality will be hard. Others are easily achievable. We can claim a measure of victory in the first three, but there is a long way to go before Britain breathes more easily.



  • Public awareness. One in 12 of us has got asthma, but most people are not fully aware of the symptoms. It kills 30 people a week, but ministers have failed to take the disease seriously until now.
  • Schools. Every one to have an asthma policy, ensuring teachers are trained, inhalers available, and triggers removed from buildings.
  • Information. Health chiefs to make asthma a priority , so GPs stop sending half of new patients away ignorant of what triggers their suffering.
  • Consultation. Sufferers to be given a voice where decisions are made about planning, transport, health and education.
  • Research. Proper public funding of a major investigation into the causes of asthma, including newly proven links with pollution.
  • The school run. A safe, non-car route to school for every child by 2010. This would cost £100,000 a school, the equivalent of 60 yards of motorway.
  • Tax relief on public transport travel cards provided by companies to staff. Car-parking spaces are already tax-free.
  • Clean air zones. High-polluting vehicles to be banned from designated areas in 30 cities by 2005; and traffic discouraged in 1,000 pedestrianised zones by 2010.
  • Congestion. Traffic to be reduced by 7 per cent by 2010. Ministers pledged to reduce levels but it is forecast to rise by 17 per cent.
  • Cars. Five per cent of all new vehicles to be non-polluting by 2010. Ban on all new petrol and diesel cars by 2020.


For more information on the disease go to the National Asthma Campaign's website at www.asthma.org.uk or call its helpline on 0845 7010203.

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