Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chief Medical Officer Slams Smoking Policy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Chief Medical Officer Slams Smoking Policy

Article excerpt

Byline: By Zoe Hughes

Health inequalities between North and South will widen under the Government's plans for a partial ban on smoking in pubs, Tony Blair's most senior medical adviser has warned.

Sir Liam Donaldson yesterday hit out at ministerial failure to back calls for a full ban on smoking in public places ( admitting he had even considered resigning over the matter.

In one of the most powerful criticisms of the proposed legislation yet, the Chief Medical Officer said the North would suffer disproportionately under the proposals at a time when it was already experiencing some of the greatest health problems in the country.

His comments came as research revealed up to 80% of pubs, clubs and bars in the North-East could be exempt from the ban, with many more choosing to stop serving food in a bid to bypass the legislation.

Easington, the sixth most deprived constituency in the UK, is expected to see only one in five of its pubs turn away smokers, while at least half of all pubs in Newcastle and Gateshead, which have some of the highest rates of lung cancer in the country, will remain smoker-friendly.

Yesterday Sir Liam, former North-East regional director of public health, said his opposition to a partial ban had led him to consider his position, telling MPs on the Commons health committee: "I had to think hard about what I wanted to do."

It was the first time in seven years his professional advice had been ignored, he said, adding: "There are some areas where if your advice is ignored and damages public health you would have to consider your position. I thought very carefully about that."

However he decided to stay on to "champion" a full ban, saying the Government's call for a partial ban would only penalise the North because more pubs were likely not to serve food. …

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