In this interview, Eddie discusses the claim that 'there is no safe level of secondary smoke' (07.49 minutes into the broadcast). He points out that the UK is failing to meet European standards on outdoor air quality while enforcing bans on smoking indoors. Specifically he refers to a document on the regulation of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, in which safe levels of all manner of toxic substances are referred to, and maximum standards of exposure are set. Yet the anti-smoking authorities persist in their doctrine that there is 'no safe level of secondary smoke'.
Eddie also asks why the legislation wasn't passed under the Health and Safety at Work Act. The Health and Safety Executive refers only briefly on its website to the issue of smoking at work, and its page on smoking at work refers to Action on Smoking and Health, ASH Scotland and other bodies external to HSE.
So does HSE really believe that passive smoking is a risk? If you go to the Homepage, the drop-down menu ('Choose a topic') includes everything under the sun ... but not tobacco smoke, or smoking. The list of industries featured does not include the hospitality industry, or the care industry, both of which include work sites that are exempt from the smoking ban under UK and/or Scottish law. Exemptions are on a limited scale, but realise that the list is all about regulating hazards at work including the regulation of hazardous substances. An ordinary person might conclude that smoke is a trivial issue compared with other substances that require to be regulated.
A government department that concludes that exposure to flour, water and cleaning agents requires caterers to be protected doesn't have much to say about secondary smoke. Engineering carries hazards that are listed in more detail and the protective kit includes breathing apparatus. It does not say of any substance that there is 'no safe level', although it does indicate the gravity of specific hazards. Several other occupational groups are discussed.
We are now nearly six years into the Scottish ban and four-and-a-half years into the English and Welsh ones, and the United Kingdom's Health and Safety Executive does not appear to have an independent view on the subject. It also fails to mention any of the areas in which smoking is still carried out as a consequence of exemptions to the smoking ban as specific areas for concern. It does not recommend gloves or breathing equipment to counteract the effects of secondary smoke.
Is the HSE failing in its responsibilities? Or are the bodies that promote smoking bans overly assiduous in their efforts to persuade us that there is no safe level of secondary smoke, when such an outrageous claim has not been made about the most corrosive industrial toxins.
(I know what I think.)