Campaigners call for desert island smoking ban
Anti-smoking campaigners have called a smoking ban on desert islands "the next logical step" in the war against second- and third-hand smoke. Deborah Arnott, director of Action on Smoking and Health, is leading a campaign for a total smoking ban across the world's islets and archipelagos: "It is a common misconception that smoking on a patch of land in the middle of the ocean poses no threat to others," she said.
"But we know there is no safe level of secondhand smoke. Cigarettes contain 4,000 chemicals which can travel hundreds of miles, contaminating nonsmokers, especially children, in neighbouring countries and pose a particular risk to passing sailors, especially children. There is overwhelming evidence that toxins remain on the torn trousers of shipwrecked travellers for years, which poses a serious health threat to potential rescuers, especially children."
At the moment there is little evidence that secondhand smoke can travel over international waters but scientists at the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies have promised to study the issue. "We'll get the evidence, don't you worry about," Arnott said. "For too long people have used loopholes like living thousands of miles from civilisation as a way to get around the hugely popular smoking ban. We need to send a clear message to smokers: we will track you to the ends of the earth."
ASH's new campaign has received high profile support from Glasgow-born millionaire Duncan Bannatyne and former desert island resident Man Friday.
Speaking at a press conference organised by Pfizer, Mr Friday said: "For most people, a desert island is a place to get away from it all and listen to their favourite records. They forget that for people like me it is a workplace and we deserve the same protection as other workers. By their very nature, desert islands tend to be unregulated and it is people like me and the fat kid with glasses from Lord of the Flies who end up paying the price."
But critics accused campaigners of going too far. Simon Clark of the smokers' rights group FOREST said: "This is just another example of the nanny state gone mad. Many desert islands are already struggling to attract ship-wreck survivors and this proposed legislation will finish them off. And it's unenforceable. This is just the precursor to banning smoking across whole countries."
In response to the accusation that ASH's real goal is to ban smoking indoors and outdoors in every country in the world, Arnott said: "Have you been reading my diary?"