In een onderzoek, dat werd uitgevoerd onder een aantal grote wereldwijd opererende verzekeraars, blijkt dat passief roken niet gezien wordt als een risicofactor.
Het onderzoek werd telefonisch uitgevoerd door één van de vele nieuwe actiegroepen die in Engeland ontstaan zijn na de stemming over het algemene rookverbod in het Engelse Lagerhuis.
Underwriters hold a key responsibility in assessing risks for weighting of policies. Whilst those with exisiting health problems, dangerous jobs or smokers face policy loading to reflect their personal risk, no such policy loading occurs for “passive smokers”.
In our brief survey each assurance company helpdesk adviser sought an opinion from underwiters departments. Two leading firms, headquartered in Scotland where the ban on smoking in public places is enforced, denied passive smoking presents a risk.
Paul Kudarenko of Scottish Widows (Lloyds TSB Group) stated after enquiry with underwriters that they would only require to know if a person has directly smoked or taken nicotine products within the last year. Passive smoking is simply not an issue.
And Barry Scott of Standard Life confirmed this. Standard Life, who have lost billions of pounds sterling in the last four years, have every reason to take steps to protect their finances. Even so, underwriters there charged with the high responsibility of risk assessment, find no reason to treat passive smoking as an issue.
Assurance underwriters take into account many factors in their policies and practices, including scientific evidence and mortality rates. But their findings conflict directly with those put forward by UK government authorities.
So who’s wrong?
The qualification as actuary is considered one of the most difficult to get, rating along with surgeons and architects. It would appear incredible that actuaries in their work as underwriters all around the world could get the passive smoking issue wrong.
Government ministers, though, take ”evidence” and opinion from interested parties and lobbyists. Those with the biggest clout and the largest coffers tend, in time, to succeed.
The Scottish Executive in presenting and succeeding with ban legislation in the Scottish Parliament did not appear to mention underwriter findings in their debate. Nor, so far, does the current debate in The House of Lords at Westminster seem to have included the issue.