News from Denmark’s evidence-based review of their smoking ban will no doubt come as a shock to Health Secretary Andy Burnham who has announced plans in Britain to further tighten tobacco control, in an attempt to reduce the number of smokers to 10% of the population by 2020.
Denmark currently allows smoking in smoking rooms and also in bars under a 40m2 serving area. Their law was reviewed after two years as planned in December 2009, and the ruling majority did not tighten their ban as everyone expected.
The reasons for this decision were:
1. Several other European countries relaxed their ban in 2009 because of financial trouble in the hospitality businesses. Liechtenstein, Croatia and Bayern all relaxed their bans and the Czech Republic voted against a ban. Greece relaxed its ban and although a total ban has been announced in Spain, it has yet to be implemented. Politicians are very likely to do what other countries do.
2. The Health authority could not show any fewer heart attacks in the two years after the ban, which was reported to the parliament. The Health authority had expected this would happen – they almost promised it – leaving several politicians feeling that they were misled.
3. Those against the ban in Denmark made sure that their politicians knew about these things in detail – delivering the truth about the heart miracle studies from scientists and anti-tobacco professor Dr Siegel.
4. One of the two hospitality organizations in Denmark said that all the small smoking bars would close if the government tightened the ban further. They are now working to have further relaxation of the rules, i.e. to make it legal to serve food in the smoking rooms of restaurants within the limits of the law.
Interestingly, many of the Danish politicians feel that their health authorities are ‘spamming’ them. One of their leading health politicians said of the top high-profile female anti-smoking lobbyist: "She is just saying the same thing every day in the press". The Danish politicians also welcome the views of the anti-ban movement and do not take the view that the ‘debate is over’.
Phil Johnson, chairman of Freedom2Choose asks, “Why do we not have smaller bars exempted or given choice? Why do we not have allowance for smoking rooms in larger pubs, clubs and restaurants? Why do we not follow the suit of most of our European counterparts who have quickly realised the dire economic impact of smoking bans? These latest proposals to reduce smoking prevalence to 10% are totally unattainable for you only have to see that smoking rates, after years of decline, have now increased since the implementation of our smoking ban in 2007. This appears to be the last desperate throw of the dice from a dying government hoping to appease the Health Lobby.”
Spokesperson: Dave Atherton: 0208 988 3038
F2C Press Office