Een commissie van de Engelse Eerste Kamer (House of Lords) heeft zich uitgesproken tegen de gang van zaken rond de verdediging van een rookverbod voor de Engelse pubs. Volgens de Lords is de voorlichting door de Minister van Volksgezondheid over de wetenschap achter het rookverbod, met name over meeroken, vooral ingegeven door angstpropaganda op het gebied van de Volksgezondheid en niet door gezonde wetenschappelijke feiten.
Het rookverbod in Engeland is, in tegenstelling tot wat veel beweerd wordt, nog geen wet. Het Britse Hogerhuis kan de wet die via een vrije stemming in het Lagerhuis werd aangenomen, nog volop amenderen of zelfs geheel afwijzen. Dat is anders dan in Nederland, waar de Senaat een wet alleen maar kan afwijzen. Pas als de House of Lords zich er over heeft uitgesproken – en het Hogerhuis deze opmerkingen heeft verwerkt – kan een wet pas naar de koningin worden gestuurd door wie de wet wordt geratificeerd.
Het algemene rookverbod in Engeland is, gezien de immense tegenstand in het Hogerhuis, dus nog lang geen wet.
The Government takes more notice of scare stories than of evidence, a Lords committee has said.
THE ban on smoking in pubs was an over-reaction to the threat posed by passive smoking and symptomatic of MPs’ failure to understand the concept of risk, a House of Lords committee has said.
The Lords Economic Affairs Committee accused the Government of kneejerk reactions to scare stories about health, saying it did not weigh the risks. Ministers placed insufficient weight on available scientific evidence and relied instead on “unsubstantiated reports” when formulating policy.
The committee disputed a principle underlying the work of the Health and Safety Executive: that society has a greater aversion to an accident killing ten people than to ten accidents killing one person each, and that safety spending should be allocated accordingly.
The committee cited the smoking ban as an example of a policy based on bad science, it having been sold to the public as necessary because of the apparent dangers of passive smoking.
Committee members questioned whether the Government had a scientific basis for the claim after Caroline Flint, the Health Minister, told the committee: “In relation to deaths from smoking and second-hand smoke, the most serious aspect is smoking in the home. Ninety-five per cent of deaths are related to smoking in the home.”
The committee heard that the “main risk” over passive smoking concerned children who are exposed to cigarette smoke in the home — which the Bill was not designed to address. The report said: “It may be that the unstated objective of policy is to encourage a reduction in active smoking by indirect means. This may well be a desirable policy objective, but if it is the objective it should have been clearly stated.”
Times Online: Smoking ban ‘is based on bad science’
Labour’s decision to ban smoking in all pubs, clubs and workplaces is not justified by the “relatively minor” risk posed by passive smoking, a House of Lords committee claims today.
The peers say the decision to outlaw smoking was a “disproportionate response” when the evidence showed that passive smoking in public places posed relatively little danger.
Ministers have publicly accepted that the vast majority of smoking-related deaths are actually caused by smoking at home, yet this was an issue which was not covered by the ban.
The committee also voices concern that ministers are not taking account of the impact such bans have on the personal freedom and civil liberties of ordinary people.
The criticism comes in a new report on how the Government manages risk which is published today by the Lords economic affairs select committee.
Daily Telegraph: Pub smoking ban is not justified, say peers
The report says that greater attention should have been given to scientific evidence, which it says suggests that passive smoking in public places is a relatively minor problem compared with passive smoking in the home.
The committee concludes that: “Failure to consider these matters properly has resulted in the introduction of a policy that appears to demonstrate a disproportionate response to the problem.”
Lord Wakeham, chairman of the Economic Affairs Committee, said the government had failed properly to apply guidelines on risk assessment.
“We are also concerned that the government does not pay enough attention to the cumulative impact of legislation on personal freedom and choice.”