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Views & Reviews Medical Classics

The Clean Air Act 1956

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 24 August 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e5751
  1. Robert Heys, retired consultant gynaecologist

The first moves towards combating the threat to health posed by smoke in Britain’s industrial centres occurred in my home town, Manchester.1 They were driven by high levels of emissions from its many coal powered factories and the coal fires heating the homes of almost three million citizens. A local barrister, Charles Gandy, chairman of the National Smoke Abatement Society, approached the city’s public health committee in 1935 to urge the creation of so called smokeless zones in its environs.

The threat and later onset of war in 1939 delayed consideration of this proposal until 1946. Statistics showing raised death rates from …

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