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British Government dragging their feet over smoking ban in North - Bairbre de Brún

6 October, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today demanded immediate action from Six County Health Minister Shaun Woodward on the implementation of a smoking ban in the workplace. Ms de Brún said that the British Government were 'dragging their feet' on the issue and that 'employee health will continue to suffer until the matter is dealt with decisively and definitively.'

Ms de Brún made her comments more than three months after Shaun Woodward said he needed more time to consult on the economic arguments, implementation issues and public opinion.

Speaking from Brussels the former Assembly Health Minister said:

"The issue of a smoke ban in the work place must be dealt with decisively and definitively. In early 2005, the Department of Health carried out a public consultation on whether smoking should be allowed in workplaces, allowed in bars which do not serve food or a total ban. Of the 71,000 people who responded, an overwhelming 91% of people were in support of the total ban.

"On June 27th, Mr Woodward said he needed more time to make his decision. While the British Government drag their feet, employee health will continue to suffer the negative and life threatening effects of second hand smoke. What more does Minister Woodward need? An overwhelming number of respondents to the consultation, health professionals and many local politicians are in complete agreement. Coupled with this, the smoking ban in the south of the country has been a complete success.

"I am making a direct appeal to Mr Woodward to move on this issue immediately. People are beginning to wonder whether the British Government have the political will to deliver a comprehensive ban on smoking throughout all workplaces in the north." ENDS

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