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LISTEN: 10 Years Since Smoke Free Law


Tomorrow is 10 years since the smoke free law was introduced.

Tomorrow is the 10 year anniversary of the smoke free law.

Health and council leaders are hailing it as one of the most important and popular pieces of legislation to protect health in a generation.

86% of North East adults support “smokefree” in 2017 and only 5% oppose the law, which was introduced on July 1, 2007, to protect people from secondhand smoke in pubs, restaurants, bars, shops, offices and workplaces, including workplace vehicles.


Ailsa Rutter, Director of Fresh Smoke Free North East tells us more:

She says the law is popular:

And says it is been positive:

She tells us more about the legislation:

And says there has been a reduction of people going to hospital:

She says we cannot be complacent:

And has this message:

Smoking rates in the North East began to fall dramatically from 2005 as a major campaign for a Smoke Free North East began, and continued action to tackle smoking has resulted in the largest drop in smoking in England between 2005 and 2017.

Politicians voted for the Health Act in 2006 which prohibited smoking in virtually all workplaces and enclosed public places.

Decades of evidence established beyond doubt that breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke is bad for health, increasing the risks of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, COPD, as well as making respiratory problems worse; causing asthma attacks, headaches, coughs, sore throats, dizziness, and nausea.

Figures suggest that despite exposure among children falling, more than one in 10 North East children are still exposed at home to secondhand smoke.

The North East has seen:

  • 86% support for smokefree law in 2017 among North East adults, with only 5% opposing it (YouGov, 2017).
  • 97% compliance from day one of the law, with many businesses going smokefree voluntarily before the 2007 law came into force. In 2006, 750 North East organisations won National Clean Air Awards – a third of the national total.
  • Fewer heart attacks – in the year after smokefree legislation, there was a 2.4% reduction in hospital admissions nationally for heart attacks, with 1,200 fewer emergency admissions in a single year. In the three years following the law’s introduction, there were almost 7,000 fewer hospital admissions for childhood asthma.
  • The largest fall in smoking rates in England since 2005, when 29% of North East adults smoked. Rates plummeted down to 25% of people smoking in 2006 and 22% in 2007 as smokers prepared for the law and became more aware of secondhand smoke. New figures in June 2017 show the latest North East smoking prevalence to be 17.2% – the lowest rate on record and nearly 218,000 fewer people smoking since 2005.
  • Levels of exposure among bar workers (the group with the highest occupational exposure to secondhand smoke) reduced significantly and respiratory health improved after the legislation was implemented. Prior to implementation 67% of workers reported one or more respiratory symptoms compared with 40% one year later[v].

Fresh was set up in 2005 to campaign for a Smoke Free North East and ran the Wreath campaign to raise awareness.

Deborah Arnott, Chief Executive of Action on Smoking and Health, said: “The last decade has seen enormous steps nationally but the North East deserves special credit for the work it has done in driving down smoking even faster than the national average.

“The region historically had the highest smoking rates and arguably the toughest challenge, but the joined up working of local authorities and the NHS shows what can be achieved and has had national and international recognition.”

The facts about tobacco smoke

Secondhand smoke is a mix of the smoke from the lit end of a cigarette and the smoke that a smoker breathes out.

Non-smokers who breathe in secondhand smoke take in toxic chemicals the same way smokers do.

Smoke from the end of a cigarette is even more toxic and has smaller particles which make their way into the lungs and the body’s cells more easily.

Evidence shows nearly 85% of secondhand smoke is invisible and odourless, which means it lingers long after you can see it or smell it.

When a cigarette burns, it releases a cocktail of over 5000 chemicals – and more than 70 can cause cancer.

Some are found naturally in the tobacco plant, some are absorbed by the plant from the soil, air or fertilisers, and some are formed when tobacco leaves are processed or are added by the tobacco industry.

Others form when a cigarette burns, so are only present in the smoke coming off a cigarette.

These include:

  • Benzene – an industrial solvent refined from crude oil
  • Carbon monoxide – a poisonous gas with no smell given off by car exhausts and faulty central heating systems
  • Arsenic – a poison used in wood preservatives
  • Polonium 210 – a highly radioactive element
  • Cadmium and lead – used in batteries


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