COMMENT - PUBLIC HEALTH

Published: 30/06/2005, Volume II5, No. 5962 Page 3

Chief medical officer for England Professor Sir Liam Donaldson has issued a rallying cry to NHS managers who do not believe the government's antismoking plans go far enough. Speaking at last week's NHS Confederation conference, he urged delegates in favour of a total smoking ban to 'make that message clear' to health secretary Patricia Hewitt (news, page 9, 23 June).

As widely expected, the government consultation paper published this week proposes banning smoking in enclosed public spaces, except for pubs and bars that do not serve food.

It now seems the onus rests on the hospitality industry to point out that a partial ban will be confusing, messy and encourage 'movement of trade' (news, page 9). Public health directors (and many political observers) think that if the hospitality industry complains loudly enough that partial restrictions on lighting up make little sense, Ms Hewitt will be 'brave' and go for a complete ban.

The ends, in this case, may justify the means. But most managers would hope that such a crucial decision would be based on health risks rather than whether the King's Head serves micro-waved pies.

So it is time for NHS managers to speak up and give Ms Hewitt the ammunition to make the right decision.

Heed Sir Liam's call. Respond to the consultation and help make smoking in enclosed public places history.