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National Submissions

NHS Greater Glasgow has put forward a powerful submission to the Scottish Executive calling on the Scottish Executive to ban smoking in public places. You can read our submission along with letters to the First Minister from senior public health and cancer doctors and our press release by clicking on the buttons to the left.

Press Release

NHS Greater Glasgow today put forward a powerful submission supporting proposals to ban smoking in public places.

It urged the Scottish Executive to impose the ban as it was revealed that, in Greater Glasgow alone, 2,500 people die prematurely every year from smoking related illnesses and more than 100 from passive smoking.

And, in an open letter to the First Minister, Jack McConnell, Dr Harry Burns, NHS Greater Glasgow’s Director of Public Health also backed the proposals to impose a ban (see attached).

In the letter, Dr Burns said: 

“The link between smoking and Glasgow’s ill-health is clear and compelling.  In the coming year, more than a thousand Glaswegians will die prematurely because they smoke. Environmental tobacco smoke damages the health of every Scot from the youngest to the oldest. A fundamental principle underlying the way we live our lives in Scotland is that people should be free to make choices about how they live their lives - so long as those choices do not harm others. It is entirely reasonable that those whose lives are being irretrievably damaged by environmental tobacco smoke should ask for protection and it is unreasonable for smokers to expect public support for smoking.“Those of us who work in the Health Service see every day the tragic consequences of exposure to the powerful carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke.  The damage done by cigarettes is suffered disproportionately by the poor and if we are serious about narrowing health inequalities we must do what we can to discourage cigarette smoking and to protect the majority of Scots who choose not to smoke from damage to their health.”

The call for a ban is fully supported by Glasgow’s top cancer specialists from the West of Scotland Cancer Centre (the Beatson), who also submitted a letter to the First Minister (see link).

In addition to putting forward a range of submissions to the consultation process, NHS Greater Glasgow reiterated its commitment to getting Glaswegians smoke free by launching a unique campaign.

For the first time, we’re handing out stop smoking information to smokers as they buy their tobacco from a newsagent.

Starting today (Wednesday, September 15, 2004), the campaign sees 200 Glasgow newsagents handing out more than 100,000 copies of our ‘Club 70’ coupon.

The coupon details where smokers can go to get help to quit and gives information about the stop smoking helpline number (0800 389 3210) and our Smoking Concerns website (www.smokingconcerns.com).

We’re also about to embark on a public consultation of our own, asking staff, patients and visitors their views on banning smoking within all NHS premises in Greater Glasgow.

Dr Harry Burns said: 

“There’s no doubt that smoking is the biggest preventable cause of illness in Scotland. Yet, every year, it causes the deaths of around 2,500 people in Greater Glasgow and illness in many thousands more who contract serious and debilitating diseases due to their tobacco habit. “Cigarettes contain around 4,000 chemicals, many of which are highly carcinogenic as well as damaging to the heart, including tar, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide, ammonia and formaldehyde. We have laws to protect the public from other health hazards, so why aren’t we protecting them from the dangers posed by passive smoking?” 

Dr Burns revealed that smoking can cause deaths from:

  • cancers of the lung, oesophagus (the gullet), upper respiratory tract (including the sinuses, throat and voice box), bladder, stomach, pancreas,  kidneys and myeloid leukaemia (a type of blood cancer);
  • COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - also known as Chronic Bronchitis, Emphesemia etc);
  • stroke and pneumonia;
  • heart attacks and aortic aneurysm;
  • stomach or duodenal ulcers; and
  • heart muscle degeneration.

And if you are lucky enough not to contract one of the debilitating illnesses already mentioned, smoking can also cause peripheral vascular disease (which gives you pain when walking); angina (chest pain) and shortness of breath due to ischaemic heart disease; abdominal pain and gastro-intestinal bleeding due to peptic ulcers; disability caused by stroke; and the bad affect smoking has on appearance (premature wrinkles, dental decay etc).

Women also have an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism if they smoke and take the oral contraceptive pill. They can suffer from reduced fertility and have an increased risk of cancer of the cervix and early menopause. Men who smoke can also experience reduced fertility and increased risk of impotence.

And then there's the damage passive smoking does to non-smokers.

We think that there may be in excess of 100 people who die every year in Greater Glasgow because they have inhaled the smoke of others.

And if you're a smoker and you're pregnant or if you regularly smoke around a pregnant woman, you are putting that unborn baby at risk of spontaneous abortion and premature birth. There's an increased risk of stillbirth and foetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen to the unborn baby); the baby may be brain damaged or its lungs won't be developed properly (leading to problems in later life); and it may have impaired growth and may not develop properly.

Once it's born, the baby may have a low birth weight which can cause health problems in adulthood; it may suffer from learning and behavioural problems as it gets older; there's an increased risk of cot death; the child may suffer from nicotine withdrawals; and there's evidence that children of smokers may suffer from an increased risk of obesity.

If you're a smoker and you have children or you smoke around other people's children, you're increasing their chances of suffering from a range of illnesses including cancer (including acute myeloid leukaemia); middle ear disease; lower respiratory tract infections (including croup, bronchitis and pneumonia); they've got an increased chance of having asthma and other respiratory problems; they may perform more poorly at school; and they may suffer from impaired lung development.

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Letter from Dr Burns

NHS Greater Glasgow’s Director of Public Health submits an open letter to the First Minister on the public consultation on smoking:

Dear Minister

I would like to congratulate you on your decision to consult the Scottish public on whether action should be taken to reduce exposure to second-hand smoke.

Glasgow’s poor health is a matter of public record.  Men in Glasgow are significantly more likely than other Scots to die from heart disease, lung cancer and respiratory diseases such as chronic bronchitis.  The link between smoking and Glasgow’s ill-health is clear and compelling.  In the coming year, more than a thousand Glaswegians will die prematurely because they smoke. 

The majority of Glaswegians do not, however, smoke.  Yet they suffer health consequences as a result of sharing public space with smokers.  Public Health colleagues working in the West of Scotland more than 30 years ago showed that passive smoking significantly increased the risk of heart disease amongst non-smokers.  Since then, the risks of developing lung cancer as a result of exposure to environmental tobacco smoke has also been shown to be significantly elevated.  In addition, we estimate that between 300 and 400 children under the age of five are admitted to hospital each year in Glasgow because of exposure to other people’s cigarette smoke.  They are admitted with bronchitis, coughing, wheezing, pneumonia, ear infections.  Even before birth there is evidence that environmental tobacco smoke can harm developing babies through causing low birth weight.  Environmental tobacco smoke damages the health of every Scot from the youngest to the oldest.

During this consultation you will hear arguments from the tobacco industry and their lobbyists about personal freedom.  A fundamental principle underlying the way we live our lives in Scotland is that people should be free to make choices about how they live their lives - so long as those choices do not harm others.  Accordingly, we have laws to prevent drivers speeding in built-up areas.  We have laws to prevent drivers causing accidents while using mobile phones.  We even have laws to stop public nuisances such as excessive noise.  It is entirely reasonable that those whose lives are being irretrievably damaged by environmental tobacco smoke should ask for protection and it is unreasonable for smokers to expect public support for smoking.

Those of us who work in the Health Service see every day the tragic consequences of exposure to the powerful carcinogens contained in tobacco smoke.  The damage done by cigarettes is suffered disproportionately by the poor and if we are serious about narrowing health inequalities we must do what we can to discourage cigarette smoking and to protect the majority of Scots who choose not to smoke from damage to their health.  I strongly urge the Executive to take action to ban smoking in public places.

Dr Harry Burns
Director of Public Health
NHS Greater Glasgow

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Letter from Cancer Specialists

Dear First Minister

Re: Smoking in Public Places

We, the undersigned, are consultant cancer specialists at the Beatson Oncology Centre – the West of Scotland Cancer Centre – in Glasgow.  We strive to provide specialist cancer care to 60% of the Scottish population.

While our specialty interests cover the whole spectrum of malignant disease, we are all concerned at the impact that smoking has on the health of the Scottish population.  Tobacco smoking is the most significant cause of early death in Scots.  The ill health and disability it causes are enormous.  And the cost to the health service is considerable.

Yet smoking related death and illness are easily preventable.  We welcome the decrease in smoking over the last three decades.  We support efforts to encourage more smokers to cease their addiction.  We acknowledge that much has been done by government in the ban on advertising and the funding of quit smoking efforts.

We now urge the Scottish Executive to legislate to ensure smoking in public and in work places is banned.  Such bans have been welcomed in some states in the USA such as California and New York and in Ireland and there are progressive bans across Australia.  When smoking is prohibited in public and work places, workers are no longer exposed to the cancer-causing chemicals in the air breathed out by smokers.

Such “passive smoking” is known to cause ill health and death.  Even sophisticated ventilation systems are unable to filter out all these lethal chemicals.  The hospitality industry voluntary code has clearly failed to make bars and restaurants safe for their staff and their non-smoking customers.

We strongly support a total ban on smoking in public places to safeguard us all and to encourage smokers to do what many of them want – to give up their habit. 

As cancer doctors, we want to see fewer smokers because that will mean less lung cancer, less head and neck cancer, less bladder cancer, less gullet cancer and a reduction in other diseases.  We know what our patients suffer and what they put up with when they develop these diseases.  We believe a legislative ban on smoking in public places will, with other measures, reduce the suffering and death we, too often, must deal with.

Yours sincerely,

Prof J Cassidy
Dr J Evans   
Dr J Fraser   
Dr R Jones   
Dr M Mano
Dr N Mohammed
Dr N O’Rourke
Dr D Ritchie
Prof A Rodger
Dr M Russell
 
Beatson Oncology Centre Consultant Oncologists

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