Asthma :: Smoke-free Northern Ireland a breath of fresh air for people with asthma

On 30 April 2007, people with asthma across Northern Ireland will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief as the long-awaited smoke-free legislation comes into effect.

Northern Ireland has one of the highest rates of asthma in the world with almost 150,000 (1 in 12 adults and 1 in 10 children) affected by this serious, widespread but controllable condition.

Claire Armstrong, Director of Asthma UK Northern Ireland says: ?For people with asthma the effects of smoking can be deadly. 84% of people with asthma in Northern Ireland tell us that cigarette smoke makes their symptoms worse and 11% of full and part-time workers with asthma have told us that they are exposed to other people?s cigarette smoke at work.

?The legislation will be truly life-changing for these people. It will ensure that they are protected from second-hand smoke in the workplace and allow them to socialise in enclosed public places without the fear of a fatal asthma attack.?

The smoke-free legislation is a major triumph for health charities, including Asthma UK Northern Ireland, who worked tirelessly to lobby the Northern Ireland Assembly for a full ban on smoking in public places. The charity is now calling on the Assembly to continue highlighting the dangers of smoking following 30 April.

Claire adds: ?Whilst we welcome the new legislation, more work must be done to encourage people to give up this deadly habit. About 18,000 people with asthma in Northern Ireland are smokers themselves, increasing their risk of asthma symptoms, asthma attacks and permanent damage to the airways. It is vital that adequate support services are available to these people following 30 April to help them kick the habit once and for all.?

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