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Daily Mail: "Nurses press for full smoking ban"

September 4, 2005 -- Today the Daily Mail (U.K.) ran a short unsigned piece reporting that the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) had petitioned the government for a full and immediate ban on smoking in enclosed public places. A potential ban is pending, but the RCN opposes the Government's proposed 2008 implementation date as well as a proposed exemption for pubs that do not serve food. RCN General Secretary Beverly Malone argues that whether a pub serves food is irrelevant to the "devastating effects of passive smoking," noting that "[e]ach day around 30 people die from second hand smoke in the U.K.," and that there is "no justification for this situation to continue a moment longer." The piece, which includes no response from the government, highlights aggressive public health advocacy by nurses.

The piece reports that, as a "consultation period" on the smoking element of the Health Improvement and Protection Bill" ends, the RCN has asked Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt to "take immediate action to ban smoking in enclosed public places." It also notes that 5,000 nurses and "RCN supporters" have petitioned Hewitt for a full ban in work places and enclosed public places. The piece reports that a March study in the British Medical Journal found that second-hand smoke killed 11,000 people each year in the U.K. The piece closes with several quotes from Malone, who calls the proposed delayed implementation and the no-food exemption "nonsensical." She is quoted as arguing that the issue is "having no choice about breathing in the smoke of others," noting that the pub exemption "will only exacerbate health inequalities as people in deprived areas are more likely to live near pubs exempt from legislation designed to protect them against smoking." The piece certainly could have given readers a better sense of the debate--it reads like it may have been drawn solely from an RCN press release--but there's no question it portrays nurses as aggressive public health advocates.

We commend the Daily Mail for highlighting the role nurses can play in "health improvement and protection."

The September 4, 2005 article "Nurses press for full smoking ban" appears to no longer be available online. But a followup article on September 5, 2005 on the issue is still live and entitled "Campaigners push for total smoking ban."