Millions exposed to secondhand smoke at work

More than half of non-smoking employees are exposed to tobacco smoke in UK workplaces, new research suggests.Pressure group ‘Smoke Free London’ said around eight million non-smokers, many working in bars and restaurants, breathed in tobacco smoke at work. Three million of these worked every day in premises where smoking was permitted.The survey, of 2,000 people, found 88% of those asked – including 91% of non-smokers – want legislation to regulate workplace smoking.At present there is no statutory legislation that directly regulates smoking during working hours. But employers do have a statutory duty to maintain and provide a working environment which is safe and free from health risks.
Judith Watt, a spokeswoman for SmokeFree London, said legislation was needed to protect employees. She said “Second-hand smoke is the only proven human carcinogen that is unregulated during working hours.
“Thanks to a 1992 EU Directive, all workers are entitled to breathe smoke-free air during breaks, but are not protected while actually working. This is a crazy situation and one that needs tackling urgently.”

Source: Financial Times BBC Online, November 2003

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