Anti-smoking call gathers support

04 October 2004
Anti-smoking call gathers support

Industry support continues to gather for Caterer's Stub out Smoking campaign, which calls for a total ban on smoking in UK workplaces. Chef-restaurateurs Gordon Ramsay and Paul Heathcote this week added their voices to our call, and completed petition forms are arriving at our offices.

Ramsay summed up the thrust of our campaign, when he told Caterer this week that "both employees and customers" are 100% behind his restaurant group's introduction of a total smoking ban. Of course, customers are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry, and we ignore their requirements and preferences at our peril. But for every diner or drinker who currently chooses whether or not to enter a smoke-filled venue, there's a team of hospitality workers who are deprived of that choice.

We believe the continuing good health of you, our readers, should underpin any business strategy undertaken at your place of work. It seems most of you agree with us. As reported in last week's issue, exclusive Caterer reader research found that 95% of respondents told us they believed working in a smoke-filled atmosphere was damaging to their health; while more than one in two said they had already experienced side effects from passive smoking.

As with any such complex and emotive issue, there are those who disagree with us. In the same week that our campaign was launched, the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) announced a five-year initiative, in conjunction with five major pub companies, to minimise the threat of passive smoking across a third of UK pubs, by banning smoking at the bar and extending non-smoking areas.

The BBPA's initiative is clearly intended to fend off the threat of regulation. And it will doubtless offer operators the safety net of a due diligence defence, should employee health and safety litigation ever threaten. Crucially, though, it fails to address fully the issue of employee safety, because it still assumes that it's reasonable for workers to breathe in their customers' smoke.

There was dissent when smoking bans were introduced on planes and trains, and in cinemas. Now such bans are never questioned. A ban on smoking in the workplace must inevitably follow the same pattern.

Do you want to hasten the ban? And are you prepared to stand up for your right to work in an environment that doesn't damage your health? If so, there's a petition form over the page waiting to be signed, sealed and delivered by you.

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