Piecemeal & Patchwork Plans to Stop Smoking

Medical Authors and Editors: Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

November 11, 2004 -- Yesterday we carried a news item from the British Medical Association (BMA) announcing that Scotland had banned smoking in enclosed public places and thus it became the first country in the UK to introduce smoke-free legislation.

Today there is yet another press release from the BMA. Wales has announced that it plans to petition its parliament to ban smoking in public places following Scotland's lead. As the Welsh secretary of the BMA put it, "The Scottish Executive is driving the issue forward in Scotland whilst we in Wales look on wistfully."

Comments

Many of us who live in the US also seem to be looking on wistfully. Our Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is concerned that the growing budget shortfalls in the states are reversing tobacco control and antismoking efforts.

Stopping smoking is a timely topic. Model legislation for smoke-free public places has been produced by the World Health Organization.

In the US, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson yesterday announced several new initiatives to help Americans quit smoking. These include a national "quitline" number, a web site with tips to stop smoking, and training of physicians to help their patients quit smoking. In addition, Mr. Thompson announced that all HHS campuses will become tobacco-free. We are astounded that this had not already been done.