Agency wants tobacco banned in public places


The World Health Organization on Tuesday urged all countries to ban smoking in indoor public places and work-places.

“The evidence is clear, there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand tobacco smoke,”WHO Director General Margaret Chan said in a statement to mark World NO Smoking Day on May 31.

”I urge all countries that have not yet done so to take this immediate and important step to protect the health of all by passing laws requiring all indoor workplaces and public places to be 100 percent smoke-free,” she added.

The WHO estimated that about 200,000 workers die each year due to exposure to smoke at work.

It also cited a recent report estimating that about 80,000 people died in the 25 now European Union counties in 2002 due to illnesses caused by secondhand smoke or passive smoking.

Some 700 million  children – almost half of the children in the  world – regularly breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, especially at home, according the the UN health agency.

A global study by the WHO and the US Centre for Disease Control found that nearly 44 per-cent of 13 to 15 year-olds interviewed in 132 countries said they were exposed to secondhand smoke at home, and 56 percent in public places. More than three quarters of the youngsters who took part in the six year study said they supported a ban on smoking in public places.

Ireland became the first country in the world to impose a legally binding nationwide ban on smoking in indoor public places in 2004, including pubs, restaurants and railway stations. Other countries including Italy, New Zealand, Norway and Uruguay have since taken similar measures.

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