Smoking and health

Environmental tobacco smoke

Imperial Tobacco recognises that other people’s tobacco smoke can be unpleasant or annoying, and that it can raise concerns leading to calls to ban smoking in public places. However, it is our view that the scientific evidence, taken as a whole, is insufficient to establish that other people’s tobacco smoke is a cause of any disease.

Our view is that bans on smoking in public places are disproportionate and unnecessary. We believe that concerns about smoking in public places can be resolved through common sense and courtesy and by introducing practical solutions such as well-ventilated smoking and no-smoking areas into work places, restaurants and other public places.

The statistical population studies (epidemiology) which have led to claims that other people’s tobacco smoke is a risk to health are subject to methodological flaws. Taken as a whole, the studies do not demonstrate a difference in the incidence of disease between non-smokers who are exposed to environmental tobacco smoke and non-smokers who are not exposed to other people’s tobacco smoke. Combining the studies through a process called meta-analysis resolves none of the original flaws and creates additional flaws.

In the same way as smokers should show courtesy to other adults, this courtesy should be extended to children, who are often unable to exercise a choice in their environment and surroundings in the way that adults can.

This document was written for the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee on their inquiry on Government Policy on the Management of Risk