WHO Calls for Smoking Ban at Work, Public Places

ON May 29, the World Health Organization (WHO) called for a global ban on smoking at work and in enclosed public places with the release of its new policy recommendations on protection from exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

"The evidence is clear: there is no safe level of exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke," said the WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan. "Many countries already have taken action. 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."

According to the WHO, about 200,000 workers die each year due to exposure to smoke at work, while around 700 million children breathe air polluted by tobacco smoke, particularly in the home.

The costs of second-hand smoke are not limited to the burden of disease, WHO states. Exposure also imposes economic costs on people, businesses and society as a whole. These include primarily direct and indirect medical costs, as well as productivity losses. In addition, workplaces where smoking is permitted incur higher renovation and cleaning costs, and increased risk of fire, and may experience higher insurance premiums.

Organizations, institutions and communities around the world celebrate World No Tobacco Day on May 31 with different activities to raise awareness of the lethal health consequences of tobacco use and exposure to second-hand smoke. Later this year, countries participating in the second Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control are expected to discuss guidelines for protection against exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke.

For more information on WHO's policy recommendations, visit http://www.who.int/tobacco/resources/publications/en/index.html. Additional information on World No Tobacco Day can be found at http://www.who.int/tobacco/communications/events/wntd/2007/en/index.html.

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