John Reid, the Health Secretary, has been accused of holding back an official report that confirms that passive smoking increases the risk of lung cancer and heart disease.
The findings by the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Heath (Scoth) were leaked to the London Evening Standard today, but anti-smoking campaigners say the report was finished four months ago.
The report will increase pressure on ministers to follow the example of the Irish government and introduce a ban on smoking in restaurants and pubs, informs Telegraph.
According to Reuters, "It is not a cover-up. We are considering the evidence. It is not taking any longer than any other report would," a spokeswoman for the department said.
"It is not something we have sat on."
Arnott said the report, which has now been leaked to the Evening Standard newspaper, should have been published in time to inform debate ahead of expected government proposals to deal with second-hand smoke.
Health experts have urged Britain to follow Ireland's example and ban smoking in public workplaces, which would include bars, restaurants and pubs. According to ASH, the report concludes that "it is evident that no infant, child or adult should be exposed to second-hand smoke."
It also found there is an increased risk of lung cancer for non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke of about 24 percent and a greater likelihood of developing &to=http://english.pravda.ru/printed.html?news_id=14392' target=_blank>heart disease.
"However, some groups, for example bar staff, are heavily exposed at their place of work and almost half of all children still live in households with at least one smoker," they said.