The GP's View: Why do we ban wood fires but still let people smoke?
WITH more of us spending long hours at home to reduce the spread of coronavirus, and winter nights drawing in, a warm fire becomes an even more cheering, welcome thing.
More than a million homes use wood for fuel – we do in my house as we have no gas and the price of heating oil seems to madly fluctuate between 40p and 80p a litre, a constant worrying expense.
However, burning wood and coal is responsible for 38 per cent of the PM2.5 in the air (these are the tiniest particles – or particulates – of pollution and can get deep into our lungs).
This is why the government has banned the sale of coal and wet wood for use in homes from February next year.
Particulates are harmful and at last this has been recognised – the impact of air pollution is one of the major health and environmental concerns of our time.
And if government policy is logical, the time must come for the banning of another plant-based product, processed for deliberate inhalation into the lungs and proven to be lethal: tobacco.
The problem is tax derived from tobacco sales is considerable: the government does not want to admit it, but in effect they want you to smoke and pay the tax.
Because despite the costs to the NHS in treating conditions associated with tobacco use being vast, balanced against the shorter lives of smokers and savings in pension support... you get my drift.
So will we see tobacco banned any time soon? Don't hold your breath.
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