Claim that ban will cost 67,000 jobs is 'rubbish'

 

One of the world's leading anti- smoking campaigners has said the claim by the Irish Hospitality Industry Alliance that 67,000 jobs will be lost as a result of the planned ban on smoking in restaurants and bars is "rubbish". Dr Muiris Houston, Medical Correspondent reports from Helsinki.

Prof Stan Glantz, professor of Medicine at the University of California, said: "People do not go to pubs to smoke, they go to drink and to socialise."

When smoking is banned in workplaces the only industry that suffers is the tobacco industry, he told a press conference at the World Conference on Tobacco or Health in Helsinki yesterday.

"Claims of catastrophe are always made by hospitality alliance groups, but when the situation is examined after the ban this never happens in effect."

He warned that the tobacco industry sees the Republic's move to be the first European state to institute a ban as "the beachhead for Europe".

"They will spend millions of dollars to prevent the floodgates of tobacco prevention opening to this part of the world."

Prof Glantz, a veteran of anti-tobacco campaigns in California and New York, said a workplace ban on smoking has either had no effect or a positive effect on the hospitality industry.

"Whether you measure tax revenue, employment statistics or consumption figures, all studies are uniform in the message that a smoke-free environment does not damage the business of restaurants or pubs."

Referring to California, he said there was an 85 per cent approval rate following the introduction of anti-smoking legislation there. Despite the predictions made by those opposing the ban, business had substantially increased in the hospitality industry.

"The evidence from the United States is that the tobacco industry gives large amounts of money to hospitality alliances to help them mount a campaign against legislation.

"We know the industry is behind these alliances. It is a routine worldwide tactic."

Earlier Prof Glantz outlined scientific research showing the effects of environmental or second-hand smoke.

These include foetal growth retardation, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, asthma and respiratory problems in children, middle ear infections in children, lung cancer, nasal sinus cancer and heart disease.

He pointed to emerging evidence that second-hand smoke may cause miscarriage, reduced respiratory function in adults and cervical cancer.

Prof Judith McKay, director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control in Hong Kong, emphasised the need for a smoke-free environment to be seen as a fundamental right. "Of all the international agreements enshrining the right to health as a fundamental human right, the framework convention on tobacco control is the strongest. "