Commenting on the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health Report showing the dangers of passive smoking, Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary, said:
“Workplaces will be safer when they are smoke free. Half measures will not save the 700 employees who die every year due to passive smoking at work.”
The call comes in the wake of Commissioner Designate and former Cypriot minister, Markos Kyprianou’s promise to protect Europe’s youth from the ‘scourges of tobacco’ saying he would go as far as to roll-out a total EU smoking ban.
An expert report prepared on behalf of the Commission has calculated that tobacco is now responsible for 660,000 deaths per year in the EU, putting the level of economic loss to the Community at 100 billion Euros or 1% of its GDP.
Kyprianou outlined his plans for tackling the smoking epidemic:
“One very important and effective area is the introduction of smoking bans in workplaces and more broadly, in all public places. I am considerably heartened to see the activity taking place at national level in this regard with the example set by Ireland, Malta and Sweden.
“Such measures are, in my view, the next major step forward that Europe must take. My personal aim would be to ensure that the Irish, Maltese and Swedish example has been followed throughout the EU by the end of my mandate, thanks to cooperation at EU as well as national level.”
In EU states where bans are in place smoking is outlawed in all workplaces, including pubs, clubs and restaurants.
Businesses are generally split on the issue; some support the move seeing it as an essential measure for protecting workers health rights while others fear loss of income if smoking is banned from all public places.