Union: Smoking Should Be Classed as Killer Chemical at Work

On March 10, Britain's National No Smoking Day, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) is calling for tobacco smoke to be classified as a "hazardous chemical" under European law and restricted in workplaces, including bars and restaurants, like other dangerous substances.

"Tobacco smoke is a killer and should be treated as such in the workplace," said Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary. "Making work smoke-free would save thousands of lives and do absolutely no harm to the economy."

The EU Commission has a legal obligation to examine the health effects of hazardous chemical agents and levels of workplace exposure using the latest scientific research (Council Directive 98/24/EC).

The TUC has written to the EU commissioner for Employment and Social Affairs asking for action under this obligation, including limits on exposure to tobacco smoke at work and to list tobacco smoke as an occupational carcinogen. The TUC says that the evidence clearly shows that failure to treat tobacco smoke in a similar way to other dangerous chemicals leads to the deaths or incapacity of many thousands of workers across the EU from lung cancer, emphysema, bronchitis and asthma.

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